Donors promise Yemen $1.35 billion in aid at Saudi Arabia-UN virtual conference

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International donors raised $1.35 billion in humanitarian aid for Yemen on Tuesday but the amount fell short of the United Nations’ target of $2.4 billion needed to save the world’s biggest aid operation from severe cutbacks.

The conflict in Yemen has left 80 percent of the country’s population reliant on aid. The country now faces the spread of the novel coronavirus among an acutely malnourished people.

Saudi Arabia hosted a virtual UN conference to help counter funding shortages for aid operations in Yemen. In total, donors pledged $1.35 billion to help aid agencies, UN aid chief Mark Lowcock told the conference.

Saudi Arabia has already pledged $500 million, including $25 million to help fight the coronavirus outbreak, Saudi ambassador to Yemen Mohammed al-Jabir told Reuters.

Britain and Germany announced respectively $201 million and $140 million. The US said last month it would extend $225 million in emergency aid for food.

Lise Grande, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, told Reuters before the conference the operation would face “catastrophic cutbacks” if the donations fell short of $1.6 billion.

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“We won’t be able to provide the food people need to survive, or the health care they need or the water or sanitation or the nutrition support which helps to keep 2 million malnourished children from dying,” she said.

Some $180 million of required funding is needed to combat coronavirus in a country with shattered health systems and inadequate testing capabilities.

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