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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 26 March 2019

UN to host largest country appeal ever for Yemen

More than $4 billion needed to support destitute Yemenis

Yemen's Prime Minister, Maeen Saeed, at the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday. EPA
Yemen's Prime Minister, Maeen Saeed, at the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday. EPA

The UN will on Tuesday host a donor conference to raise $4.2 billion (Dh14.7bn) to support 24 million Yemenis suffering from years of conflict and deprivation.

The event marks the largest consolidated humanitarian appeal for Yemen.

Led by the governments of Sweden and Switzerland and with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in attendance, the appeal will highlight that 80 per cent of the Yemeni population needs urgent humanitarian assistance and protection.

“Four years of continuous conflict has turned Yemen into the worst humanitarian crisis of our time,” said Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Yemen.

“Ten million people are a step away from famine and starvation and seven million people are malnourished."

But aid agencies say funding alone will not suffice and that action is needed to prevent air strikes on civilian areas.

“Tomorrow governments can and should pledge much more aid for Yemen, but they must also act to end this man-made catastrophe,” the Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council , Jan Egeland, said on Monday.

The UN human rights office says nearly 18,200 civilians have been killed and injured since the start of the conflict between Yemen’s government and Houthi rebels in March 2015.

Yemen's humanitarian situation remains horrific for civilians, said Jens Laerke, spokesman from the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“The people of Yemen need massive amounts of other kinds of aid," Mr Laerke said. "In the health sector, water and sanitation, education for their children, and so on and so forth. We are really at a crossroads.”

On Sunday the United Kingdom pledged £200 million (Dh960m) towards food, water and sanitation projects, bringing the overall sum to £770m since the start of the start of the conflict.

"The UK has given its full backing to the UN-led peace process," Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday.

"I want to continue to build international support for the tireless and vital work of the UN special envoy, Martin Griffiths."

Yemen’s Prime Minister Maeen Saeed on Monday said his government was appealing to the international community for support in achieving just and comprehensive peace.

“The war in Yemen will not end until the Houthis are defeated, we hope that the humanitarian agencies will deal impartially with the situation in the country,” Mr Saeed said during a meeting in Geneva ahead of the donor conference.

The UN-brokered ceasefire and troops withdrawal from the port city of Hodeidah have yet to be implemented, jeopardising the peace process.

A scheduled Houthi withdrawal from two Yemeni ports on Monday was postponed, Yemeni government sources said.

The move out was initially set to take place on Sunday but was delayed indefinitely, the official said.

The withdrawal of troops is set to be carried out in two phases. First, rebel fighters must withdraw from the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef and Ras Issa, then government troops must leave the eastern outskirts of the city.

“The Houthis have not demined the roads leading to the ports as agreed to during the meetings and have chosen to ignore our suggestions,” the Yemeni official said.

Speaking to The National last week, the UK Middle East Minister, Alistair Burt, said it was crucial that the Houthis complied with the terms of the Stockholm agreement.

“It was their insurgency that led to this issue in the first place and the must be a major part of the solution,” Mr Burt said.

He said that Yemen’s warring sides needed to recognise that confidence was low and work hard to ensure that the troop withdrawal and ceasefire hold.

“So that gradually the conflict can come to an end and the politics of Yemen can return to Yemeni people themselves, we must ultimately bring a conclusion to this,” Mr Burt said.

Updated: February 26, 2019 12:10 AM

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