The cut came after UN appeals for $ 2.42 billion in funding this week failed by about 50%.
“There will have to be much broader cuts in Yemen in the countdown to closure at a time when the country is now facing the growing impact of a virus pandemic on people who are already malnourished and ill-equipped to deal with it,” Lise Grande said. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for CNN, in a phone call to Sanaa on Wednesday, the capital of the divided nation.
“General health services in 189 of the country’s 369 hospitals are starting to close in three weeks. Water and sanitation services for 8.5 million people, including 3 million children, are closing in three weeks. Nutrition support for 2.5 million malnourished starving people children will start closing in eight to 10 weeks, ”she warned.
Donors pledged $ 1.35 billion on Tuesday of the $ 2.42 billion the UN said Yemen needed in a virtual conference. “The worst-case scenario – which we are now facing – means that the number of deaths from the virus could exceed the combined amount of war, disease and famine in the last five years. [in Yemen]”Grande told CNN.
According to the Armed Conflict and Events Data Project, just over 112,000 people have been killed in the Yemeni civil war over five years – 12,690 civilians are among the dead.
Estimates for the number of people who have died from disease and malnutrition in the country have varied greatly. But the UN and other aid organizations are delivering humanitarian aid to 10 million Yemenis. The cholera epidemic, the UN believes, has already infected 110,000 people this year.
Four of Yemen’s five need “rescue aid,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a conference Tuesday, adding that Yemen has faced one of the largest deaths in the world since Covid-19. The country has negligible ability to test for coronavirus, but medical agencies also believe the level of infections could be high.
This week, health services for women who gave birth in 150 UN-supported hospitals closed in the first wave of cuts after the funding conference.
The five-year civil war in Yemen stopped the Houthi rebels against the internationally recognized government, which was supported by the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Earlier this year, the Emirates withdrew its army from the conflict, but continues to support the government, which is in exile in Saudi Arabia. Riyadh, meanwhile, continues to support and fund tribal militias, and its air force has been punished on the ground.
Much of the lack of new funds is to blame for the apparent failure of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait to work together, which in previous years amounted to about $ 1.5 billion. This year, the UAE and Kuwait have not offered any funding for UN efforts, and Saudi Arabia has offered $ 500 million of which $ 300 million is earmarked specifically for the UN.
Saudi Arabia has wanted to get out of the riots since late last year. The war has undermined support for Saudi Arabia in Washington, where renewed arms deliveries to the Kingdom from the United States are possible only as a result of using the Trump administration’s emergency powers to circumvent the Congress-imposed arms export block to Saudi Arabia.
Some diplomats believe the reduction in UN funding by the Gulf states could be in part an attempt to force Houthis into peace talks.
The rebel administration in Sana’a often diverted and aided areas controlled by the Houthis. The UN World Food Program has often complained about the diversion of Houthis food – and the U.S. has cut funding for the program to implement improvements.
U.S. support, $ 225 million, was returned to the WFP only recently after the Houthis agreed to prevent harassing workers from harassing and a wide range of “taxes” on aid coming into the area under their control.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE say they want to continue to help Yemen with help – but insist that this should not be redirected to the Houthi war effort. In the Emirates, it is understood that the government is trying to find ways to continue funding aid operations.
“The UAE has spared no effort to provide medical assistance to support countries affected by Covid-19 cooperation with international organizations, with UAE assistance amounting to $ 135 million from early March to late May,” said Reem al Hashimy, Emirati Minister for International Cooperation. he said in a statement to CNN.
“Moreover, the UAE Red Crescent continues to work in Yemen to provide assistance to our Yemeni brothers. We deeply regret the loss of two of its staff killed by terrorists in March. However, this will not deter us from delivering the mission and humanitarian duty,” al Hashimy added. .
However, it is not clear to UN officials how this “duty” can be fulfilled while, as one senior UN official put it, “our operations are almost collapsing.”