United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Officer Mark Lowcock appealed to donor nations to provide $ 2.4 billion to help millions of people in Yemen cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing conflict in the country.
Lockook said that aid programs had already been cut off and that the situation there was “troubling”.
At a UN press conference on Thursday, Mark said the United Nations received $ 3.2 billion last year for Yemen.
This year, the United Nations appealed to countries to provide about $ 3.4 billion, but as of Wednesday, it had received only $ 516.6 million, just over 15% of the aid required.
Saudi Arabia had pledged $ 525 million in early April, and Lukoc said he hoped the money would be transferred quickly.
The United Nations and Saudi Arabia are co-hosting a video pledging conference for Yemen on Tuesday and Lowcock said he has been on the phone with Persian Gulf leaders in recent days but doesn’t know what they’re going to do. The collapse in oil prices because of the pandemic may be spurring internal discussions, he said.
Lowcock said he expects high-level representation at the conference, and asked: “Is the world ready simply to watch Yemen fall off the cliff?”
Yemen’s conflict started with Houthi Shiite rebels backed by Iran capturing the capital, Sanaa, in 2014. The following year, a Saudi-led coalition backing the government intervened to battle the rebels and curb Iran’s influence in what has turned into a stalemated regional proxy war. Since then, more than 100,000 people — fighters and civilians — have been killed.
Lowcock and the heads of 10 other U.N. agencies and several U.N. officials and humanitarian organizations issued a joint statement Thursday saying “COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the country already experiencing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.”
“This means many more people will die,” they warned.
Henrietta Fore, head of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF and one of the signatories, told the briefing that its funding is very low and urged donors to be generous.
More than 12 million children across Yemen need humanitarian assistance and nearly half a million require treatment for severe acute malnutrition and “could die if they do not receive urgent care,” she said.
“We are confronting a crisis on top of a crisis – a pandemic on top of a brutal conflict,” she warned. “Today, the pandemic is pushing Yemen even closer to the brink of collapse.”