The United Nations hopes to raise $ 3.85 billion on Monday at a donors ’conference to prevent widespread famine in Yemen, a country ravaged by war and where” childhood is now hell. “
More than 100 governments and individual donors are participating in a hypothetical meeting (jointly hosted by Sweden and Switzerland) where violence on the ground has recently escalated in Marib, north of the extremely impoverished country of the Arabian Peninsula.
The Houthi rebels resumed their offensive in early February to wrest the last government stronghold in the north, as attacks escalated on neighboring Saudi territory.
The conflict, which is more than six years old, has killed tens of thousands and pushed millions more to the brink of starvation: it is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis according to the United Nations.
In the context of the pandemic, the decline in aid funding has exacerbated the situation. The United Nations, which raised only half of the aid needed last year, on Monday called for “immediate funding”.
For most people, life in Yemen is now unbearable. Childhood period is now hell. “This war is killing an entire generation of Yemenis,” said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“Now is not the time to move away from Yemen,” the senior diplomat was quoted in a statement as saying.
The United Nations is particularly counting on the wealthy Gulf states surrounding Yemen to collect $ 3.85 billion (about 3.18 billion euros), after losing $ 1.5 billion from the $ 3.4 billion needed last year.
On Friday, the United Arab Emirates pledged $ 230 million.
According to the latest United Nations figures, more than 16 million Yemenis, or nearly half of the population of 29 million, will face hunger this year.
Nearly 50,000 of them are “already starving in conditions close to starvation” and 400,000 children under the age of five can die from acute malnutrition “without emergency treatment”.
In September 2020, the United Nations revealed that essential aid had been cut to 300 health centers in Yemen due to a lack of funding, and that more than a third of its main humanitarian programs in the country were either interrupted or stopped altogether.
Twelve aid organizations, including Save the Children, Oxfam and Action Against Hunger, have warned of a “catastrophe” in the event of a funding shortfall.
“With five million people on the brink of famine and more than two-thirds of the country’s population in need of humanitarian assistance or protection, the situation could not be more urgent,” they said in a joint statement.
The World Food Program, the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, announced Sunday that it itself is “facing a significant shortage of funding.”
‘The worst famine’
The conference comes at a time when the United States is seeking to revive political dialogue to resolve the conflict. Washington removed the Houthi rebels from the “terrorist organizations” list and stopped supporting the Saudi-led coalition’s military intervention in the country since 2015.
However, the Houthis stepped up their operations against government forces and Saudi Arabia, as the Saudi air force bombed rebel positions in northern Yemen to counter their latest offensive.
The United Nations has warned of a potential humanitarian catastrophe if the bloody fighting for Marib continues, noting that it has already put “millions of civilians at risk.” The area, which has been relatively unaffected by the conflict until then, is home to many displaced people, hundreds of whom have had to flee recently.
“We are at a crossroads,” said the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, according to the statement.
“We can choose the path of peace or let the Yemenis plunge into the worst famine the world has seen in decades.”