UN appeals to Gulf nations as Yemeni humanitarian crisis deepens

The United Nations needs US$716 million to avert a humanitarian disaster in Yemen, and hopes that Gulf nations will contribute to a portion of that.

DUBAI // The United Nations needs US$716 million (Dh2.62?billion) to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Yemen this year, and it hopes part of that will come from this region.

The budget for this year, to cover basic amenities for the 13 million people in Yemen who do not have access to safe water and 10.5 million who have no secure access to food, was outlined in Dubai yesterday.

Representatives of the Yemen office of the UN department  for coordination of humanitarian affairs said the budget was $134m higher than last year.

“We have more baseline data this year, which proves to us the situation is worse than we expected,” said Ismail Ahmed, UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen.

“Last year was a transitional year. This year we have more warehouse space, more partners and more capacity to implement. We are confident we’ll meet our objectives.”

Mr Ahmed said the agency had 89 charities and NGOs, regional and international, delivering or funding key goals of the response plan.

The Khalifa Foundation and Red Crescent are chief among UAE donors, and the foundation has already pledged Dh500m for food aid to Yemen. “From what we have seen, the situation in Yemen is deteriorating – and that’s alarming,” said Mohammed Al Bastaki, deputy director general of the Khalifa Foundation. “The country has been and will continue to be a core interest of our activity.”

So far, the largest proportion of funds already secured has come from the World Food Programme, a UN body.

Lubna Alaman, country director for the programme, said the agency was going to spend $250m to secure food for five million people.

“We are committed to giving them monthly food, they are totally dependent on our supplies,” she said.

Ms Alaman said the number of people facing severe food shortages had increased by 88 per cent between 2009 and last year, caused by unrest within the country and global food price increases.

To avoid any duplication of aid efforts, a coordination group will be set up in Sanaa this year for charities involved in delivering food aid.

Ms Alaman said the Khalifa Foundation and the Qatar Charity had both shown an interest in being part of the committee.

"They're very interested in being part of this effort," she said.
"It's important to put it all together, so we can see where we're going and not duplicate efforts."