Paris – The Francophone Association for Human Rights (AFDH) expresses its concern for the deteriorating situation in Yemen as the country faces extreme aid shortages amidst a global pandemic and a raging war.
75% of UN programme operations in Yemen have had to be closed or scaled down as funding has become sparse which is posing a serious threat to millions of people. One of the biggest programmes faced with funding shortages is the UN’s World Food Program (WFP). The organization provides food assistance to 12 million people which costs an estimated $837 million for six months. Since funding fell short, the WFP has been providing families with food every other month instead of monthly since April, according to the UN.
During a virtual humanitarian event organized by Saudi Arabia to raise money for Yemen in June 2020, donors pledged $1.35 billion to help the war-torn country, falling short of the $2.41 billion target as donor nations struggle to keep their own economies afloat during the pandemic.
AFDH said in a statement today, “We must not be fooled by Saudi Arabia’s virtual donor conference to raise funds for Yemen. Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Yemen is one of the biggest facilitators of the country’s turmoil. This is pure charity-washing.” Saudi Arabia pledged $500 million however $200 million of that was to be delivered to the kingdom’s own government relief agency, instead of NGOs working directly in Yemen.
Five years of war have forced over 3.6 million people to flee their homes and over 24 million people (80% of the population) are in need of humanitarian assistance. Before COVID-19, Yemen was experiencing extreme food shortages, poor access to clean water, sanitation and healthcare as well as deadly disease outbreaks such as cholera and diphtheria. Corruption has added to the crisis as millions of dollars in aid has been obstructed by Houthi-rebels controlling the capital, Sanaa and other territories, making it more difficult for agencies to provide aid to those in desperate need of it.
As COVID-19 spreads across the country untraced, people with severe cases of the virus face challenges due to already weakened immune systems and the inability to access treatment as hospital beds are sparse. Those with milder cases are unable to afford at-home treatments and many are going untreated as they do not have the financial means to do so. Furthermore, many health workers have become sick with the virus due to poor safety measures such as access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection and control measures in hospitals.
The Francophone Association for Human Rights is calling on all donors who have made pledges to pay them immediately as Yemen’s needs grow in severity. AFDH added “Yemen is in dire need of help and it seems like the world is watching silently.” The UN, donor nations and other agencies must not give up on Yemen; the country needs our help now more than ever.