International donors today pledged nearly US$1.1 billion to help scale up life-saving aid to millions of people in need in Yemen during a pledging event in Geneva, co-chaired by the United Nations, Sweden and Switzerland.
“At a time when Yemen is experiencing a tragedy of almost unprecedented proportions and the need for humanitarian and protection assistance has never been greater, the generosity shown at this pledging conference helps to reaffirm our common humanity,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the close of the high-level event which was attended by more than 70 countries and a large number of regional organisations, UN agencies and non-governmental humanitarian organisations, including from Yemen. Pledges were made by 48 Member States, the European Commission, the Central Emergency Response Fund and four NGO/humanitarian organisations for humanitarian action in Yemen in 2017. “Now we must see the pledges translated into the scaled up action the people of Yemen need and deserve,” the Secretary-General said.
Yemen is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world with close to 19 million people – two thirds of the population – in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. The complex emergency in Yemen is man-made and has deteriorated significantly since hostilities escalated in March 2015. More than 10 million extremely vulnerable Yeminis require immediate assistance to survive and famine remains a credible risk for 6.8 million people if they do not receive aid urgently.
“We came here to mobilise humanitarian support for the people in Yemen and to send them a strong message of solidarity that they have not been forgotten,” said Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland. He called for rapid, unimpeded and sustained humanitarian assistance for Yemen and underlined the need for all parties to abide by international humanitarian law. Burkhalter also pointed out the need to address the underlying sources of the humanitarian crisis. “We need a durable cessation of hostilities – humanitarian assistance can be no substitute for a political solution to the crisis in Yemen,” he said.
For 2017, the UN and partners launched an international appeal for $2.1 billion. Support for the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan will ensure an evidence-based, prioritized, coordinated and principled humanitarian response. Pledges made today will substantially increase the funding level of the Response Plan.
Highlighting the importance of attention to the issue of child rights and child protection, Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, said: “A whole generation is at risk – and this generation needs to rebuild Yemen.” The Minister furthermore emphasized the need to mainstream gender equality throughout the humanitarian response. “We know that women’s involvement increases both the effectiveness and efficiency of humanitarian assistance. We also know that women’s participation increases the likelihood of successful peace negotiations and sustainable solutions.”
The United Nations and its partners are already responding across Yemen with neutral and impartial assistance, including life-saving food, shelter, water, sanitation, health services and protection to people in need. Last year, humanitarian partners reached nearly 6 million people across all of Yemen. However, aid delivery is often obstructed by the conflict and bureaucratic obstacles, depriving people of critical support. The UN, Sweden and Switzerland call on all parties to the conflict to urgently facilitate the entry of essential commercial and humanitarian goods into all areas of Yemen and ensure unimpeded and sustained access to all people in need.
Over the past two years, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated $59.2 million for people most affected by the conflict. When the situation deteriorated in 2015, CERF allocated $44 million to enable rapid scale up of life-saving aid. As the humanitarian needs further increased in 2016, CERF bridged a crucial gap by providing $15 million to sustain critical activities, including assistance to people affected by the cholera outbreak. The Emergency Relief Coordinator has set aside an allocation for famine prevention of $25 million. Funds will allow UN partners to provide food, nutrition, health supplies, logistics and security support.
Photos: Giles Clarke for OCHA