The United States has announced $444 million in aid to Yemen, as the United Nations continues to plead for humanitarian assistance to the war-torn country.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed the new assistance on Monday, saying that it exemplifies “the continued generosity of the people of the United States for the people of Yemen.”
“As one of the largest donors, this brings our total [contribution] to the humanitarian response in Yemen to over $5.4 billion since the conflict began,” Blinken said in a statement.
“The United States’ commitment to alleviating the suffering of millions from the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains resolute.”
The UN has been struggling to raise funds for life-saving humanitarian aid for Yemen, where more than 21 million people, two-thirds of the population, “still require assistance and protection,” according to the international body.
The UN is seeking $4.3 billion from donors, but so far it has only raised around $1.2 billion.
“The international community has the power and the means to end the crisis in Yemen,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday.
“It begins by fully funding our humanitarian appeal and committing to disbursing funds quickly. Together, let us give hope to the people of Yemen.”
More aid needed
The UN has warned that if it fails to raise money to fund UN programs in Yemen, it “will be forced to scale back or suspend programming, at terrible human cost.”
The UN added that it helped deliver food, water, shelter, education and other assistance to nearly 11 million people each month last year. But it still had to reduce some of its programs due to lack of funding.
“Record global humanitarian needs are stretching donor support like never before, but without sustained support for the aid operation in Yemen, the lives of millions of Yemenis will hang in the balance, and efforts to end the conflict once and for all will become even more challenging,” the UN said in a statement.
For its part, the US called on other countries to join Washington in donating to Yemen.
“While today’s pledges are important, much more is needed. We urge all donors to give generously to help raise the $4.3 billion the UN will require to provide humanitarian assistance to Yemenis,” Blinken said on Monday.
He also urged broader economic support for Yemen.
“Humanitarian assistance must also be complemented by economic and development support,” he said.
“More than eight years of conflict have pushed Yemen’s economy and institutions to the brink. Families have been left unable to buy basic goods, provide for their children, or access healthcare. The United States continues our efforts to help stabilize Yemen’s economy and restore basic services and livelihoods.”
Many advocates describe the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which has been teetering on the edge of widespread famine, as the worst in the world.
‘Glimmer of hope’
Despite the dire economic situation, exasperated by a sharp rise in the prices of basic goods, Yemen has seen relative peace since a UN-brokered truce between the warring parties was announced last year.
The truce expired in October after the Saudi-backed government and the Houthi rebels failed to extend it. Still, full-scale fighting has not resumed.
The US has been supporting the Saudi-backed coalition fighting the Houthis, but Washington has repeatedly called for an end to the conflict.
This week, Blinken said Yemen is experiencing an opportunity for lasting peace, which he described as a “glimmer of hope” for the country.
“Building on the momentum from the UN-mediated truce, the parties now have the chance to end this war,” Blinken said.
“The international community must do everything we can to help – including through strong support to the Yemen humanitarian response – to build further positive momentum and ensure Yemenis see the tangible benefits peace can bring.”