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UN warns of Yemen famine

The UN’s humanitarian chief warned on Tuesday “the spectre of famine” has returned to war-torn Yemen and for the first time singled out Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait for giving nothing to this year’s $3.4bn appeal for desperately needed aid.

The UN’s humanitarian chief warned on Tuesday “the spectre of famine” has returned to war-torn Yemen and for the first time singled out Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait for giving nothing to this year’s $3.4bn appeal for desperately needed aid.

Mark Lowcock told the UN Security Council that famine in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, was averted two years ago because donors swiftly met 90 percent of the UN’s funding requirements, enabling humanitarian agencies to increase monthly aid from eight million to 12 million people and save “millions of lives”.

Today, he said, the UN appeal has received only 30 percent, about $1bn, leaving nine million Yemenis to cope with deepening cuts to aid programmes including food, water, and healthcare.

Lowcock said Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait “who have a particular responsibility, which they have discharged in recent years, have so far given nothing to this year’s UN plan”.

Alluding to financial pledges that have not been turned into actual contributions, he said, “It is particularly reprehensible to promise money, which gives people hope that help may be on the way, and then to dash those hopes by simply failing to fulfil the promise”.

“Continuing to hold back money from the humanitarian response now will be a death sentence for many families,” Lowcock said. “So yet again, I call on all donors to pay their pledges now and increase their support.”

Yemen’s conflict has killed more than 100,000 people and created the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, with more than three million people internally displaced and two-thirds of the population relying on aid for survival. Some 24 million Yemenis, or 80 percent of the country’s population, require some form of assistance or protection, according to the United Nations.

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