A UN pledging conference on April 25 raised $1.1 billion in humanitarian aid funding for Yemen.
In his closing remarks, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was essential that the parties to the conflict in Yemen allow for the free flow of humanitarian aid to those in need.
— UN Web TV (@UNWebTV) April 25, 2017
It is time for the international community to pay back and in this moment of distress for the Yemenis, it is time for us all to show the same solidarity, the same support, to the people of Yemen.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
Two years of war
Yemen was the poorest country in the Middle East even before the civil war began two years ago.
As of March, the World Bank estimates that 60 percent of the popualtion – about 17 million people – were food insecure.
Since the civil war began in 2015, malnutrition has increased 57 percent, affecting 3.3 million people including 462,000 children under the age of five.
The conflict is affecting nearly the entire population of Yemen: about half of its 26.8 million people live in areas directly affected by war, and more than 21.1 million people need humanitarian assistance.
The war has displaced 2.8 million people.
Saudi Arabia pledged $150 million at Tuesday’s conference, the largest single donation.
The kingdom is leading the coalition whose air offensive has killed an estimated 16,000 people and displaced more than 2.8 million.
Fighting between President Abd Rabbuh Manusr Hadi’s forces and Houthi rebels allied with fighters loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh escalated in 2015, prompting Riyadh to intervene on Hadi’s behalf.
The coalition includes the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Senegal and Sudan backed by intelligence, weapons and support from a number of nations, including the US and UK.
Since August 2015, the Saudis have blockaded the Hodeida port through which about 70 percent of Yemen’s food is imported for distribution. The country imports about 90 percent of its food.
Aid agencies have reported that their shipments of medical supplies and other humanitarian aid has been delayed by the blockade or denied outright.
Earlier this year, the coalition prevented three shipments of medical supplies for the charity Save the Children from entering Hodeida, forcing them to be re-routed and delayed up to three months.
Guterres said on Tuesday he was hopeful the rest of the $2.1 billion the UN is requesting for Yemen will be pledged by the end of the year.
“We are only in April. This represents a very encouraging signal that, indeed, we will be able to achieve our target by the end of the year,” he said.
Charities including the International Committee of the Red Cross called for more to be done to facilitate the delivery of aid, medical supplies and food.