The humanitarian response plan is stalled. How much have donors paid for relief projects in Yemen?

The humanitarian response plan is stalled. How much have donors paid for relief projects in Yemen?


The United Nations describes the humanitarian crisis in Yemen as the worst in the world, where famine is ravaging more than two-thirds of the country's population, as a result of the ongoing war since the Houthis invaded the capital Sanaa, in addition to the tens of thousands of dead, wounded, disabled and thousands of institutions left behind by the fighting. Buildings and installations are broken, paused or destroyed.

The rebellion led by the Southern Transitional Council, backed by the UAE in northern Yemen, has increased humanitarian challenges for UN organizations in Yemen. Less than half a million new displaced persons in southern Yemen have joined more than three million displaced people in Yemen, according to the United Nations, as donor countries reneged on their pledges for humanitarian relief in Yemen.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that 30,000 patients would die of cancer if funding was not available for their treatment.

The United Nations announced in August that if donor countries did not keep their promises, they would cut their food rations to 12 million people, cut services to at least 2.5 million malnourished children, and 19 million Yemenis would not have access to health care, including one million woman relies on the United Nations for reproductive health, noting that clean water programmes for five million people will be closed by the end of October and dozens of families will be homeless.

Donor Conference

Last February, the United Nations sponsored a donor conference to secure $4.2 billion in support for Yemen's 2019 humanitarian response plan to help 21.4 million needy and hungry people in Yemen.

At the conference, donors pledged $2.62 billion (£2.14 billion), but only half of that amount was delivered to the United Nations.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been the most prominent contractors, but they are also the most prominent countries that have not fulfilled the pledges they made at the donor conference, where the two countries, which have been engaged in military operations in Yemen for four years, have pledged $1.5 billion out of a total of $2.6 billion.

In June, the two countries were heavily criticized by the United Nations for not fulfilling their commitments, and Mark Lowcock, assistant secretary-general for relief and emergency coordinator, said Saudi Arabia and the UAE had "made a modest percentage of their commitments."

Saudi Arabia, in the words of its UN representative Abdullah al-Moallemi, rejected the accusations, saying that his country paid more than $400 million to the United Nations and other organizations in 2019.

The UAE went on to deny the accusations by publishing a report issued by the Ministry of International Cooperation, in which it said that the amount of aid to Yemen is estimated at $5.5 billion, which, from the view of observers, is a very large amount, which would have changed the humanitarian situation in Yemen if the UAE had ratified its claim.

Old new promises.

At a Security Council session on Yemen last week, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock unveiled Saudi-Emirati promises to honor financial commitments made by the two countries at a donor slate in February.

On Monday morning, He received confirmation from Saudi authorities that they planned to transfer $500 million at once to the donors' conference to fund the humanitarian response plan in Yemen in February, Lowcock said.

"I very much welcome this and look forward to signing the agreements on September 25th, as well as the transfer of funds that day," Lowcock said in his briefing.

The UN official noted that the United Arab Emirates has allocated $200 million for the response plan, including $100 million for the World Food Programme and $100 million to be directed through the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for urgent priorities.

Lowcock did not say whether the UAE had actually transferred the money to UN accounts, but stressed that "the lack of access to the agency's bank accounts means that it will not be able to reactivate vaccination programmes, nutrition centers and cholera prevention and other activities."

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs warned that the United Nations would continue to close its programmes, noting that other programmes targeting millions of people would remain at risk of closure if funds pledged by donors were not available.

According to The Lowcock  briefing, the Saudi and UAE pledges came ahead of the Security Council session, and the two countries seem to have pre-empted any new rebuke from the United Nations regarding the failure to meet the financial commitments, and initiated oral pledges, paying part of them, with the possibility that no payment would be made, which means stoppage of many of the Programmes implemented by the United Nations in various fields in Yemen .

OCHA data and numbers

Al-Masdar Online has sent several inquiries to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Yemen (OCHA), about pledges made by donors in February and funds paid from each country until mid-September.

The OCHA office responded to the site's queries with a list of "documents", with pledges made by each country to finance the humanitarian operation, and referred the organization's website to a schedule of funds paid from each country.

The United Nations declined to respond to the site's inquiries regarding progress in persuading donors to fulfil their pledges, and the arguments they put forward to justify the delayed transfer of funds they had pledged.

Francis Smith, head of humanitarian affairs and reports at the OCHA office, said donor countries are concerned to respond to "Al-Masdar Online" inquiries. In his response by mail, he explained that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs was following up on the pledges made, but did not ask the kind of questions that "Al-Masdar Online" is looking for answers."

According to the data and information obtained by Al-Masdar Online, several countries have not fulfilled their financial obligations to the United Nations, while others have submitted a proportion of their commitments, and the United Nations continues to urge them to fulfil their full commitments.


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