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UN seeks over $4 billion to avert mass starvation in Yemen

Aid agencies have already been forced to cut back or stop food, health and other vital assistance in Yemen where the economy and basic services have collapsed
Last Updated : 16 March 2022, 10:02 IST
Last Updated : 16 March 2022, 10:02 IST

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The United Nations seeks to raise nearly $4.3 billion at a pledging event on Wednesday for war-torn Yemen where the humanitarian drive has seen funding dry up even before global attention turned to the conflict in Ukraine.

More than 17 million people in Yemen need food assistance and this could rise to 19 million in the second half of the year, UN bodies said. By December, those experiencing emergency levels of hunger could reach 7.3 million.

"While Ukraine understandably and rightly requires our urgent attention and focus right now, we cannot drop the ball on other crises," said Swedish foreign ministry official Carl Skau.

The hope is for generous pledges but the target for the one-day event is not the full $4.27 billion, said OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke, adding fundraising would continue.

Aid agencies have already been forced to cut back or stop food, health and other vital assistance in Yemen where the economy and basic services have collapsed in the seven-year war.

Food prices, which doubled last year due to a blockade imposed by a Saudi-led coalition battling Yemen's Houthis, are set to rise further since a third of the country's wheat comes from Russia and Ukraine, said UN aid chief Martin Griffiths.

Across Yemen, 2.2 million children are acutely malnourished.

In Aden's Keraa camp, Abdo Yehya has seen no aid this year.

"We survive with the help of our son who collects empty plastic bottles and metal cans and sells them, and...the kindness of people," he said. "We are exhausted."

The UN received just over half the $3.4 billion needed in 2020 while last year, donors gave $2.3 billion.

The World Food Programme warned on Monday that without substantial new funding mass starvation and famine would follow.

Donor budgets were strained by the pandemic, the Afghanistan crisis and now Russia's invasion of Ukraine. There are also concerns over allegations of Houthi interference in aid flows.

The Houthis ousted the government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014, prompting the coalition to intervene months later.

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Published 16 March 2022, 10:02 IST

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