UN raises $2 billion in Yemen appeal

Pledged amount increases almost by half compared to last year’s conference on Yemen
GENEVA: Donor countries pledged more than $2 billion for humanitarian aid to the warn-torn Yemen, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the end of a pledging conference in Geneva on Tuesday.
Speaking in a press conference in Geneva following the conference held to discuss the crisis in Yemen, Guterres said the donor countries pledged more than $2 billion at the conference, showing almost a 50-percent rise from last year’s conference, which had raised $1.1 billion for humanitarian action in Yemen.
The 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen requires $2.96 billion in order to reach more than 13 million people across the country.
One of the wealthiest donors, Saudi Arabia has restricted humanitarian access in Yemen while providing financial support to the UN for humanitarian aid into Yemen.
About Saudi Arabia’s contradictory action, pledging about $1 billion for Yemen while blocking aid into the country, Guterres said, “Two things need to be seen separately.”
In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies — who accuse the Houthis of serving as a proxy force for Iran — launched a wide-ranging military campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains and shoring up Yemen’s Saudi-backed government.
Noting that last year’s donor conference for Yemen raised $1.1 billion, Guterres said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have provided $930 million and pledged to secure an additional $500 million from the region for 2018 while other donors have contributed some $293 million so far, which means 40 percent of the required amount for the year has been provided.
At the conference in Geneva, Guterres asked the donor countries to provide nearly $3 billion in aid to the country, where humanitarian access remains restricted in 90 percent of its districts.
The UN secretary-general urged the warring sides in Yemen for a political settlement.
“Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. As the conflict enters its fourth year, more than 22 million people — three-quarters of the population — need humanitarian aid and protection.
“We must see action to end the conflict…There are no humanitarian solutions to humanitarian crises. A negotiated political settlement through inclusive intra-Yemeni dialogue is the only solution. I urge all parties to engage with my new Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, without delay,” Guterres said.
Noting that all ports must remain open to humanitarian and commercial cargo, including medicine, food and fuel, Guterres said, “Humanitarians must be able to reach the people who need help the most, without conditions.”
“Humanitarian agencies and their partners need full and unconditional access at all times. But humanitarian agencies report access constraints in 90 percent of districts in Yemen,” Guterres added.
Also speaking at the pledging conference, Turkey’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Naci Koru said the international community should encourage all the parties to return to the table with a genuine result-oriented manner.
“Turkey will continue to support the urgent humanitarian needs of Yemeni people,” Koru said.
He reminded Turkey’s role as the current chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), saying that Turkey’s priority was to “increase the role of the OIC in the settlement of the crises in the Islamic world”.
“We would like to see a concrete momentum in the peace process in Yemen on which OIC Contact Group meeting can build. We are planning to host the fifth OIC Yemen Contact Group meeting in Turkey at the earliest convenience.”
Yemen has remained dogged by conflict since 2014, when the Houthi militia overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.–AA

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