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News > Yemen

UN Issues Desperate Plea for Financial Aid in War-Ravaged Yemen

  • Yemen has so far reported 564 confirmed COVID-19 infections and 130 related deaths.

    Yemen has so far reported 564 confirmed COVID-19 infections and 130 related deaths. | Photo: FAO

Published 12 June 2020
Opinion

"More than 30 of the 41 UN-supported programmes in Yemen will close in the coming weeks if additional funds are not secured."

The United Nations has warned that three-quarters of the aid programs backed by its agencies in war-ravaged Yemen will have to shutter in weeks without more funding, even as both COVID-19 and cholera continue to spread in the country.

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UN: COVID-19 Rebound in Yemen to Cause More Deaths Than War

International donors pledged $1.35 billion for Yemen at a conference on June 2, but that was well below a $2.4 billion fundraising target needed to prevent severe cutbacks in the UN's aid operation.

"More than 30 of the 41 UN-supported programs in Yemen will close in the coming weeks if additional funds are not secured," UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a briefing in Geneva.

"Now, more than ever, the country needs the outside world's help, and it's not really getting it," Colville said.

Yemen has so far reported 564 confirmed COVID-19 infections and 130 related deaths, but the figures lag and may not include all cases in areas controlled by the Houthis in the north, he said.

The country's minimal testing capacity compounds the challenging situation. According to data compiled by the International Rescue Committee, Yemen has one of the world's lowest testing rates, even compared with other conflict-hit countries, at just 31 tests per million citizens.

On the other hand, in a country with the world's worst humanitarian crisis, in addition to the pandemic, according to the UN, some 137,000 cases of cholera and diarrhea have been recorded this year, nearly a quarter of them in children below five.

The UN also says the country's health system has, in effect, collapsed, with hospitals lacking beds and primary medicine and turning away sick people. The country's malnourished population has among the world's lowest immunity levels to disease.

For its part, the world body's children agency, UNICEF, said water, sanitation, and hygiene services for four million people would start shutting down in July if it did not get $30 million by the end of this month.

"The crisis is of cataclysmic proportions," Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UNICEF's country representative for Yemen, told Al Jazeera.

Yemen's long-running conflict mainly pits Houthi rebels against a pro-government camp supported by a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The fighting has left some 24 million Yemenis - more than two-thirds of the population - to rely on some form of aid.

It is estimated that at least 100,000 people have died and millions have been displaced by the conflict, pushing the impoverished country to the verge of famine and gutting its infrastructure. 

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