Yemen remains on the brink of “a macabre tragedy,” the UN has warned after a humanitarian fundraising summit raised only US$1.35 billion for this year, about US$1 billion short of the target and only half the sum raised at the equivalent pledging conference last year.
Mark Lowcock, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said that unless more money was raised Yemen “will face a horrific outcome at the end of the year.”
Despite the shortfall “the UN will not abandon the people of Yemen,” he said, adding that pledging would continue, because some of last year’s large donors had not yet contributed.
Abdullah al-Rabiah, supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre in Saudi Arabia, which cohosted the virtual summit, put the overall shortfall down to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on national budgets and concerns about the restrictions on aid flows imposed by the parties to Yemen’s five-year civil war.
“We want to be sure that the money will go to those in need,” he said.
The largest single sum pledged, US$500 million, came from Saudi Arabia, one of the main protagonists in the war.
Other big donors were the UK, the US, Norway and Germany.
Those countries that had not paid “had to stand up” or Yemen faced “a macabre tragedy,” Lowcock said.
Repeated disputes over the diversion of aid, including by interference or by conditions set by the Houthi rebels in the north of the country, have led some Arab states to hold back from making pledges.
The UN had to work throughout the country to help the most vulnerable, regardless of which group was in charge of the territory, Lowcock said.
Before the conference, the UN had only been able to raise US$500 million for Yemen this year. Even if all the US$1.35 billion pledged was handed over, the UN aid budget for Yemen would still be more than US$1 billion less than the US$3.2 billion eventually raised last year.
“Yemen is now on the precipice, right on the cliff edge, below which lies a tragedy of historic proportions,” Lowcock said.
In a sign of the UN’s problems, Saudi Arabia insisted US$200 million of its donation would be spent through Saudi Arabian aid programs, not those sanctioned by the UN.
It also later clarified this sum had been previously announced, but not handed over.
The United Arab Emirates, one of the external powers backing the Yemeni government against the Houthis, made no commitment to the UN program at the summit.
During the four-hour virtual summit, addressed by more than 40 speakers, leaders called for a political settlement and the lifting of any restrictions on the distribution of humanitarian supplies.
The conference was not designed to bring about the resumption of political talks to end the conflict, which started when Houthi rebels seized the capital, Sana’a, from the Saudi Arabian-backed and UN-recognized government.
That government has been hit by internal divisions, with a secessionist group, the Southern Transitional Council based in Aden, claiming to rule across the southern governorates.
Saudi Arabia has reopened talks with the council to try to reunify the anti-Houthi forces, but the widespread view is that Saudi Arabia wants to bring the war to an end, as long as it can protect its borders.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres highlighted the arrival of the novel coronavirus in Yemen in early April.
“We are in a race against time,” he said. “Reports indicate that, in Aden, mortality rates from COVID-19 are among the highest in the world. That is just one sign of what lies ahead, if we do not act now.”
He said that only half of Yemen’s health facilities were operational, and there were shortages of testing devices, oxygen, ambulances and basic protective equipment.
French authorities yesterday said that they would close a Paris mosque as part of a clampdown on radical Islam that has yielded over a dozen arrests following the beheading of a teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. The mosque in a densely populated suburb northeast of Paris had disseminated a video on its Facebook page days before Friday’s gruesome murder, railing against teacher Samuel Paty’s choice of material for a class discussion on freedom of expression, a source close to the investigation said. The French Ministry of the Interior said the mosque in Pantin, which has
LONGSTANDING NEUTRALITY: The US request came as it vied for influence in Southeast Asia with China, but Indonesia has never let foreign militaries operate there Indonesia this year rejected a proposal by the US to allow its P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes to land and refuel there, four senior Indonesian officials familiar with the matter have said. US officials made multiple “high-level” approaches in July and August to Indonesia’s defense and foreign ministers before Indonesian President Joko Widodo rebuffed the request, the officials said. Representatives for Indonesia’s president and defense minister, the US Department of State’s Office of Press Relations and the US embassy in Jakarta did not respond to requests for comment. Representatives for the US Department of Defense and Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said that he has no problem with being held responsible for the many killings under his crackdown on drugs, and that he is ready to face charges that could land him in jail, but not charges of crimes against humanity. Duterte’s televised remarks were among his clearest acknowledgement of the prospects that he could face a deluge of criminal charges for the bloody campaign he launched after taking office in the middle of 2016. Police have reported that at least 5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others arrested since
WEIGHING THE RISKS: One biogeochemist said that the known risks of disease from not sterilizing baby bottles outweighed that of microplastics Bottle-fed babies might ingest more than 1 million pieces of microplastics each day, new research showed on Monday, highlighting the abundance of plastics in our food products. There is growing evidence that humans consume huge numbers of the tiny particles, formed when larger pieces of plastic break down, but very little is known about the knock-on health consequences. Researchers in Ireland looked at the rate of microplastic release in 10 types of baby bottles or accessories made from polypropylene, the most commonly used plastic for food containers. They followed official guidelines from the WHO on sterilization and formula preparation conditions. Over a 21-day