Mar 16, 2022 - World

UN raises less than a third of requested funds for Yemen humanitarian response

People warm by a fire at a camp for the displaced on the outskirts of Yemen's third city of Taez, on January 11, 2022. (Photo by AHMAD AL-BASHA / AFP)

People warm by a fire at a camp for the displaced on the outskirts of Taez, Yemen, on Jan. 11. Photo: Ahmad al-Basha/AFP via Getty Images

The UN aid chief on Wednesday said it's a "disappointment" that nations have only pledged $1.3 billion of the $4.27 billion requested for the UN's humanitarian efforts in Yemen this year.

Driving the news: Russia's war in Ukraine and the rapidly growing refugee crisis in Europe have overshadowed other humanitarian crises worldwide. An estimated 23.4 million people — about three of every four people in Yemen — need assistance in what has been called the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN.

  • This includes about 19 million people who will "go hungry in the coming months."

What they're saying: "We hoped for more, and it is a disappointment we didn't get pledges from some we thought we might hear from," UN aid chief Martin Griffiths told a pledging event co-hosted by Sweden and Switzerland Wednesday.

  • "The dire situation ... is one that needs money, funding — urgent, rapid, in the bank — for the people of Yemen," Griffiths said, adding that the UN will look at possibly holding a second pledging round in the coming months.

State of play: The World Food Program has said it has already been forced to reduce food rations for 8 million people in Yemen due to funding shortfalls.

  • In a statement ahead of Wednesday's pledging event, WFP executive director David Beasley warned that "funding for Yemen has never reached this point. We have no choice but to take food from the hungry to feed the starving."
  • The current crisis in Europe is likely to hurt those suffering in Yemen as well, the UN said, pointing to the fact that about one-third of Yemen's wheat comes from Russia and Ukraine.

Background: A Saudi-led coalition has waged an aerial campaign against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels since 2015.

  • The Houthis have in recent months stepped up their attacks against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
  • The Saudi-led coalition is expected to invite Yemeni parties to Riyadh for consultations on the crisis this month, per Reuters.
  • The Houthis said Wednesday they would welcome talks with the Saudi-led coalition in any "neutral country" and that the priority should be given to "lifting arbitrary restrictions" on the port city of Hodeidah and Sana'a airport, the Houthi-aligned Saba news agency said.

The bottom line: "After more than seven years of war, Yemen is becoming what humanitarians often refer to as a 'chronic emergency,'" Griffiths told the UN Security Council Tuesday.

  • "And, as aid workers know, there are grave risks in chronic emergencies, namely inertia and fatigue," he added. "We have to avoid giving into those forces."
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