The global focus on recent crises like the Ukraine war is “directly linked” to a donor conference for Yemen only raising a third of the required $4.3 billion, officials at the latest high-level Geneva meeting told The National.
Monday's pledging event raised only $1.2 billion of the $4.3 billion required to provide life-saving assistance in the form of food, protection, shelter and hygiene supplies for the 17.3 million Yemenis in need of assistance.
“Conflicts that last for too long see a pattern of decreased interest. Over the last year, there's also been the outbreak of other major crises, mainly Ukraine, that kind of shifted the interests and priorities of actors that contribute to the funding,” Imene Trabelsi, regional spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told The National.
Similar pledging conferences have not been meeting their targets for the past two years.
“In the Middle East, all of our operations are currently underfunded, funding declined steadily over the last years and the outbreak of major global crisis over the last year, such as in Ukraine, is linked directly to the shift in interest."
Yemen's deputy minister for planning and international co-operation, Mansour Zaid, said: “We watched the event and the size of the donations was very weak and does not meet even the bare minimum of Yemen's humanitarian needs”.
“It appears that countries are less interested in Yemen's humanitarian situation after eight years of war, especially considering the war in Ukraine”, he added.
Former diplomatic adviser and Yemen researcher Baraa Shiban discouraged continued reliance on aid.
“The UN aid budget keeps increasing significantly every year and that will never resolve the humanitarian crisis. As a Yemeni, I am not really disappointed [in the lack of funds pledged] because we can't remain dependent on UN aid programmes and we should never be”, he told The National.
Houthi attacks on oil ports have caused fuel exports, a main supply of foreign currency, to come to a halt, compounding an already dire economic situation in the country.
Yemen's real gross domestic product (GDP) fell by almost half from 2010 to 2020, World Bank Figures show.
“The international community needs to help Yemenis by supporting the private sector and encouraging the local economy to recover”, Mr Shiban said.
The UAE has so far provided Yemen with $6.6 billion in aid and a $300 million deposit for the Central Bank in Aden to bolster the country's economy.
The Emirates also said 2023 should be the “year in which peace is achieved in Yemen”, state news agency Wam reported.
“The UAE believes that the time has come to shift our focus from managing the conflict to finding a solution to it, starting with renewing the truce and alleviating the humanitarian conditions experienced by the people of Yemen and the catastrophic consequences of the war," UAE Minister of State Noura Al Kaabi said at the pledging event.