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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

UK pledges Dh470m to fight famine in Yemen

The £96.5 million aid package will be delivered to UNICEF to tackle malnutrition in Yemen over three years.

 A Yemeni child walks past rubbish on a street amid a cholera outbreak in Sana. EPA
 A Yemeni child walks past rubbish on a street amid a cholera outbreak in Sana. EPA

As war-torn Yemen draws closer to experiencing the worst famine in 100 years, the UK announced Tuesday it will be providing a major new funding package to tackle malnutrition.

The £96.5 million aid package will be delivered to UNICEF to tackle hunger in Yemen over three years. It includes financing for the screening of 2.2 million children under the age of five and the provision of urgent treatment for 70,000 of the most vulnerable children.

The announcement, made by Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt, coincides with UN World Food Day. “The UK is extremely concerned at the deepening humanitarian crisis in Yemen, including recent reports of the growing risk of famine to millions of Yemenis who do not know where their next meal is coming from,” Mr Burt said.

“Children are suffering the most and are 12 times more likely to die from diseases. Today’s UK aid package will help identify cases of malnourishment earlier and provide life-saving care for those most in need.”

Mr Burt also said the UK would continue to call on all parties to find a political solution to the conflict.

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The United Nations warned that 13 million people in Yemen are on the brink of famine. Meritxell Relaño, UNICEF Representative in Yemen, said “this renewed commitment from DfID comes at a time when we need support from our partners more than ever, to provide more than 2.5 million malnourished children with the urgent assistance they need to survive.”

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that $3 billion is needed in 2018 to tackle the variety of challenges facing the country. To date, 68 per cent of the appeal has been funded.

Lise Grande, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, defined the developments in Yemen in a recent interview as “unthinkable.” “I think many of us felt as we went into the 21st century that it was unthinkable that we could see a famine like we saw in Ethiopia,” she told the BBC. “Many of us had the confidence that would never happen again and yet the reality is that in Yemen that is precisely what we are looking at.”