UAE and Saudi Arabia pledge $200 million in Yemen aid for Ramadan

UAE Minister of State for International Co-operation Reem Al Hashimy announced the humanitarian assistance

A man carries sacks of grain he received from an ICRC aid distribution centre in Bajil, Yemen December 13, 2018, 2018. Picture taken December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have pledged $200 million worth of aid to Yemen for Ramadan, the UAE's Minister of State for International Co-operation, Reem Al Hashimy, said on Monday.

Both countries are working with humanitarian organisations to ensure the aid would be distributed in both Houthi and government-controlled areas, Ms Al Hashimy said in Abu Dhabi.

"The situation in Yemen continues to be difficult and in distress, and we are working closely to alleviate the humanitarian suffering," she said, adding that aid must be able to reach all areas of the country.

About $140 million (Dh514.2m) will be going to the World Food Programme to bridge the funding gaps for food needs, while $40m will go to the UN children's agency to address sanitation problems and malnutrition among women and children.

The World Health Organisation will receive $20m to help control cholera.

“The timing of this support was chosen to meet the urgent need and the delivery of aid assistance in the coming weeks to allow the Yemeni people to maintain their traditions and to practise the customs of the holy month of Ramadan,” Ms Al Hashimy said.

A large part of the funding will go towards supporting women and children.

"We will work with UN agencies to deliver this aid to all Yemeni governorates," Ms Al Hashimy said.

"We want to also begin the process of rebuilding the economy for Yemen and its infrastructure."

The funding is part of $500m in donations announced in November last year, to urgently relieve the suffering of the Yemeni people.

"The UAE's main aim in Yemen is to ensure that stability and prosperity prevails," Ms Al Hashimy said.

In March, the UAE and Saudi Arabia jointly pledged $1 billion for Yemen at a humanitarian aid conference in Geneva.

Abu Dhabi and Riyadh have contributed $18bn to Yemen since the outbreak of the war in 2014.

Meanwhile, UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths arrived in the capital Sanaa on Monday to meet Houthi leaders and try to salvage a peace deal brokered in Sweden last December.

Yemen’s internationally recognised government and the rebels agreed to a ceasefire in Hodeidah – which went into effect on December 18 – the withdrawal of all forces from the city’s three main ports and a prisoner exchange deal.

But breaches of the agreement by Houthi rebels, including sporadic clashes and mortar fire into the port city, have threatened the deal.

“The Stockholm agreement has been violated 3,000 times since it came into effect in December,” Ms Al Hashimy said.

She called for the Iran-backed rebels to respect of the peace agreements so that work could begin on building a brighter future for Yemen.

“We look forward to providing more and soon,” Ms Al Hashimy said.

She said the UN was in a “difficult position”.

“So we are pushing for the Stockholm agreement and are relying on Martin Griffiths and UN bodies to ensure and help us to achieve peace in Yemen,” she said.

Yemen's war started in 2014 when Houthi rebels swept the northern part of the country and forced the internationally recognised government to flee the country before seeking military intervention by the Arab Coalition.