U.N. seeks $716 mln for humanitarian crisis in Yemen

Published: Updated:

The United Nations launched a report in Dubai titled ‘Yemen: Humanitarian Response Plan 2013,’ and appealed to international donors for millions of urgently-needed funds to assist Yemen’s underfed and displaced.

U.N. aid organisations working in Yemen asked international donors on Tuesday (January 22) for $716 million for a state where nearly a million children under five are acutely malnourished.

The new U.N. report also said that 10.5 million of Yemen’s 24 million people lacked sufficient food supplies, and 13 million had no access to safe water and basic sanitation.

Representatives from organizations within the U.N. appealed to Yemen’s wealthier neighbors for support.

‘One of the purposes of having these conferences is to encourage the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries to channel more resources through multilateral channels,’ said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugee’s (UNHCR) Yemen representative Naveed Hussain.

The Friends of Yemen, who include Yemen’s rich Gulf neighbors and the five permanent members states of the U.N. Security Council, made pledges of $7.9 billion in September to address the humanitarian and budget crisis and upgrade infrastructure.

It was short of the $12 billion sought by the government, but the World Bank said at the time the pledges should be enough to meet budget shortfalls in the cabinet’s reconstruction plan over the next 18 months.

Officials from a number of U.N. organizations said on Tuesday they were hoping to tap into these pledges for this year’s urgent humanitarian needs.

The U.N. children’s charity UNICEF’s deputy representative for Yemen Jeremy Hopkins stressed the urgency of Yemen’s aid needs.

‘This year we have an excellent window to actually implement immediately - you give us the millions today, we can start tomorrow,’ he said.

Poverty was one of the factors behind a popular uprising that forced out President Ali Abdullah Saleh last year.

With much international attention now focused on Syria’s civil war, the current administration is still grappling with the threat of violence from al Qaeda, secessionist sentiment in southern Yemen, and Shi’ite Muslim Houthi rebels who control swathes of the north.

‘We are committed to combating terrorism, however, we ask for a change in the methods and strategies in order to implement strategies that do not kill civilians or infringe on their human rights,’ said Yemen’s minister of human rights Hooria Mashour Kaid.

Restoring stability is important to Washington and Gulf countries because of Yemen’s location on the important Red Sea oil shipment route and the threat that al Qaeda will use it as a base for attacks on Gulf states or the West.

The U.N.’s 2013 report said more than 431,000 people were internally displaced in Yemen, and that it was also sheltering 269,000 refugees from abroad, mostly from the Horn of Africa.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis fled several towns in the south in 2011 after Ansar al-Sharia (Partisan of Islamic Law), an armed group linked to al Qaeda, captured them, taking advantage of months of unrest that followed the uprising against Saleh.

President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government drove them out last year with military help from the United States.