CAIRO (Dispatches) – The United Nations is seeking $4.3 billion at a pledging conference Monday to alleviate the suffering of millions of people in Yemen, where an eight-year Saudi-led war has created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
More than 21 million people in Yemen, or two-thirds of the country’s population, need help and protection, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, which says the humanitarian needs in Yemen are “shocking.” Among those in need, more than 17 million are considered particularly vulnerable.
“The people of Yemen deserve our support. But more than that, they deserve a credible path out of perpetual conflict and a chance to rebuild their communities and country,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, addressing the donors.
Monday’s high-level gathering is co-hosted by Sweden, Switzerland, and the UN in the organization’s Palais des Nations in Geneva.
In Monday’s first pledge, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said her country will provide 120 million euros ($127 million).
“This terrible humanitarian disaster is one the world repeatedly and much too often has almost closed its eyes to,” she told reporters in Geneva.
The $4.3 billion appeal for 2023 is almost double the $2.2 billion that the UN received in 2022 to fund its humanitarian program in Yemen. The UN had sought $4.27 billion for 2022.
Monday’s conference comes as the global economy remains rattled by the yearlong Russian invasion of Ukraine. Inflation rates have surged over the past year across the world, forcing many governments to focus on elevating the needs of their own people.
Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the U.S. and other Western states, launched a devastating war on Yemen in March 2015.
The objective was to crush the popular Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen, and reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.
The Saudi-led coalition has failed to achieve any of its objectives. Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis have been killed. Yemen is witnessing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis now.
The conference is taking place as the warring sides continue to observe an informal and fragile cease-fire. Efforts are underway to declare a new truce after the parties failed to renew a UN-brokered truce in October.
“We have a real opportunity this year to change Yemen’s trajectory and move towards peace, by renewing and expanding the truce,” Guterres, the UN chief, said.