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  • Yemen has so far confirmed a total of 354 infections and 84 deaths from the coronavirus.

    Yemen has so far confirmed a total of 354 infections and 84 deaths from the coronavirus. | Photo: AFP

Published 2 June 2020
Opinion

Critics questioned Saudi Arabia’s role in rallying humanitarian support even as it continues to wage a war that has created the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

International donors pledged Tuesday US$1.35 billion in humanitarian aid to war-ravaged Yemen, well below a US$2.41 billion fundraising target, according to the United Nations.

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"A total of US$1.35bn in pledges has been announced from a wide range of donors to the humanitarian response in Yemen including to fight COVID-19," a U.N. spokeswoman told reporters.

The videoconference was organized by the U.N. and Saudi Arabia, a major player in Yemen's five years wars since it launched a bombing campaign against Houthi rebels who seized the northern half of the country.

Saudi Arabia pledged US$500 million in aid to support a U.N. Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen.

The United Kingdom, a leading arms supplier to Saudi Arabia, stepped in with a new aid package for Yemen worth US$200 million. The United States, another weapons provider to the kingdom, said it would offer US$225 million, while Germany announced US$139.8 million in assistance to Yemen.

Critics as well as Houthis have questioned Saudi Arabia’s high-profile role in rallying humanitarian support even as it continues to wage a war that has created the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The air attacks and fighting on the ground have killed more than 100,000 people including thousands of children and displaced millions of others, pushing the impoverished country to the verge of famine and gutting its healthcare facilities.

Yemeni researcher and a non-resident fellow at the Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies, Maysaa Shuja al-Deen, said the kingdom is trying to repair its international image by changing the conversation.

Saudi Arabia "has always tried to change the narrative of the war and present itself as a backer of the legitimate government, not part of the conflict", she said.

Yemen has so far confirmed a total of 354 infections and 84 deaths from the coronavirus - but aid groups believe the actual numbers are much higher.

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 one million citizens.

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