The disappointment was great, Monday 1er March, to the United Nations faced with the lack of mobilization for Yemen, on the brink of a generalized famine. During the donors’ conference, co-organized by Sweden and Switzerland by videoconference, and in which 100 governments and individual donors participated, only $ 1.7 billion was raised, out of the $ 3.85 billion expected (about 3 , 18 billion euros). “The result of today’s meeting (…) is disappointing, regretted the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres. Millions of Yemeni children, women and men desperately need help to survive. Cutting aid amounts to a death penalty. “
Mr. Guterres had, however, warned of the further deterioration of the situation in the country, which is already experiencing, according to the UN, the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Six years after the start of the conflict between Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and forces loyal to the Yemeni government, backed by the Saudi-led military coalition, more than 130,000 people have been killed and 3.3 millions displaced. “For most people, life in Yemen is now unbearable, described the Secretary General of the UN. The period of childhood is now hell. This war is wiping out a whole generation of Yemenis. “
According to the United Nations, more than 16 million Yemenis, or about half of the population of 29 million, will face hunger this year. Almost 50,000 of them “Are already dying of hunger in conditions close to starvation” and 400,000 children under 5 could die of acute malnutrition “Without emergency treatment”. Famine and the Covid-19 and cholera epidemics are additional plagues in this country where the economy has collapsed, where the health system has collapsed and where countless children remain deprived of education, some having even been recruited to fight.
“In six years of war, the country has lost nearly twenty years in development and a whole generation has grown up with this conflict and will pay the price,” said Auke Lootsma, director of the United Nations Program for development (UNDP)
The fall in aid funding in the context of the pandemic – notably from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which also denounce the misappropriation of aid by the Houthis – has made the situation worse. In 2020, $ 1.5 billion was already missing of the 3.4 billion required by the UN, forcing the organization to cut essential aid in 300 health centers and reduce or even interrupt more. a third of its main humanitarian programs.
“Lack of livelihood”
“We are not only facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, but the worst development crisis as well. In six years of war, the country has lost nearly twenty years in development and a whole generation has grown up with this conflict and will pay the price ”, said Auke Lootsma, director of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Yemen. “The famine is not due to the lack of food, but to the lack of means of subsistence. Yemenis cannot buy food, which is 90% imported. Food aid must be complemented by programs to develop local livelihoods, agriculture and fisheries ”, adds the humanitarian.
The offensive launched on February 8 by the Houthi rebels in the oil province of Marib, 120 kilometers east of the capital, Sana’a, to wrest the last loyalist stronghold in the north of the country, raises fears of a new humanitarian crisis. It gives rise to deadly fighting and the shelling of Houthi positions by the Saudi air force, while more than a million Yemenis have taken refuge in the province. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the fighting has already displaced more than 8,000 people. More than 380,000 other people could be displaced if the fighting reaches the town of Marib.
Humanitarians hope that the change of footing of the United States since the arrival of Joe Biden in the White House will allow to restart the political dialogue and to put an end to the conflict. The new administration has given up on supporting the military intervention of the Riyadh-led coalition and removed the Houthi rebels from the list of “Terrorist organizations” so as not to hinder the delivery of humanitarian aid to the territories they control and where the majority of the Yemeni population lives.