U.N. calls out Saudi Arabia, UAE for not paying Yemen aid pledges

United Nations aid Chief Mark Lowcock called out Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Thursday for only paying a “modest proportion” of the hundreds of millions of dollars they pledged five months ago to a humanitarian appeal for Yemen.

Both countries each promised $750 million at a U.N. fundraising event in February that was seeking $4 billion, but Saudi Arabia so far has paid only $121.7 million and the United Arab Emirates about $195 million, according to U.N. figures.

Saudi Arabia leads a Western-backed military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 in a bid to restore the government ousted from power by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement. The United Arab Emirates is a key member of the coalition.

“Those who made the largest pledges – Yemen’s neighbors in the coalition – have so far paid only a modest proportion of what they promised,” Lowcock told the U.N. Security Council, adding that as a result the U.N. appeal was only 34 percent funded compared with 60 percent at this time last year.

Saudi U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi said Saudi Arabia had paid more than $400 million to the United Nations and other aid organizations this year.

“This year we alone ... we have paid more money into Yemen than any of the donors in the world,” Al-Mouallimi told reporters.

The United Nations describes the situation in Yemen - where the four-year-long war has killed tens of thousands of people and left millions on the brink of famine - as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

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