UN humanitarian chief and the heads of 10 UN agencies and several officials and humanitarian organisations issue a joint statement saying “Covid-19 is spreading rapidly across the country already experiencing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis”.
The UN is urgently appealing for $2.4 billion to help millions in war-torn Yemen cope with the conflict and Covid-19, saying programs are already being cut and the situation is “alarming.”
The United Nations and Saudi Arabia are co-hosting a virtual pledging conference for Yemen on Tuesday seeking $2.4 billion, including $80 million to respond to the pandemic.
"There's no way to describe this situation other than alarming," UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said. "Is the world ready simply to watch Yemen fall off the cliff?"
"There are tens of millions of people whose lives are now at risk unless we get, not just pledges, but the money," he said.
Lowcock and the heads of 10 UN agencies and several UN officials and humanitarian organisations issued a joint statement Thursday saying “Covid-19 is spreading rapidly across the country already experiencing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis” as a result of the war, and expressing increasing alarm about the worsening situation.
“Tragically, we do not have enough money to continue this work,” they said. “Of 41 major UN programs in Yemen, more than 30 will close in the next few weeks if we cannot secure additional funds.”
“This means many more people will die,” they warned.
The 17 signatories said they have the skills, staff and capacity to meet the difficult challenges of delivering aid in Yemen, but no money. And time is running out.
“We ask donors to pledge generously and pay pledges promptly,” they said.
Lowcock said the United Nations received $3.2 billion last year for Yemen, but so far in 2020 it has only received $474 million. Saudi Arabia pledged $525 million nearly two months ago and Lowcock said he hoped Riyadh would pay soon.
"Most of the UN agencies are just a few weeks away from being broke. We've never had so little money for the Yemen aid operation ... this late in the year," he said.
"Last year it was well-funded essentially because the countries of the region stepped up and we're hoping that's going to happen this time."
Lowcock said that of the $2.4 billion needed to fund the aid operation for the rest of the year, $180 million was to combat the outbreak of the coronavirus in Yemen, which the United Nations said was spreading rapidly.