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UN says Yemen aid pledges ‘disappointing’ at $1.7 billion

The United Nations’ head said Monday that a donor conference for war-torn Yemen had yielded just $1.7 billion, less than half the funds needed, in a “disappointing” outcome as it tries to prevent a devastating famine.

“Millions of Yemeni children, women and men desperately need aid to live. Cutting aid is a death sentence,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

The UN had urged international donors to raise $3.85 billion to fund urgently needed humanitarian programmes for war-torn Yemen, but pledges in a virtual conference fell far short.

Guterres said the figure was less than the UN had received in 2020, when donations were hit by the coronavirus downturn, and a billion dollars less than was pledged at the 2019 donor conference.

“The best that can be said about today is that it represents a down-payment. I thank those who did pledge generously, and I ask others to consider again what they can do to help stave off the worst famine the world has seen in decades,” he said.

Guterres said the only way of relieving the suffering for Yemeni people was to secure a nationwide ceasefire and a political solution to end six years of grinding conflict that has plunged the nation into the world’s most severe humanitarian crisis.

“There is no other solution,” he said. “The United Nations will continue to stand in solidarity with the starving people of Yemen. “