DUBAI—International donors raised $1.35 billion in humanitarian aid for Yemen on June 2, although the amount fell short of the United Nations target of $2.4 billion needed to save the worlds biggest aid operation from severe cutbacks.
The conflict between a Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-aligned Houthi group has left 80 percent of Yemens population reliant on aid. The country now faces the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, among acutely malnourished people.
Saudi Arabia, leader of the coalition fighting the Houthis since 2015 in a stalemated war, hosted a virtual U.N. conference to help counter funding shortages for aid operations in Yemen.
In total, donors pledged $1.35 billion to help aid agencies, U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock told the conference.
Saudi Arabia has already pledged $500 million, including $25 million to help fight the coronavirus outbreak, Saudi ambassador to Yemen Mohammed al-Jabir told Reuters.
Saudi has faced criticism from international rights groups for its conduct in the war, particularly a campaign of airstrikes that has led to many civilian deaths and destroyed infrastructure.
Britain—which sells weapons to coalition members—and Germany announced respectively $201 million and $140 million. They called on the warring parties to immediately end the conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people, mostly civilians.
The United States, which also backs the coalition, said in May it would extend $225 million in emergency aid for food.
Lowcock, asked about Saudi Arabia co-hosting the event, said Riyadh is a large donor and the United Nations would continue to call out warring parties on actions “they should not be doing.”
“Saudi Arabia keeps trying to whitewash its coalitions role in the deepening humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, but co-hosting the funding event wont fool anyone,” Afrah Nasser, Yemen researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, told Reuters before the conference the operation would face “catastrophic cutbacks” if the donations fell short of $1.6 billion.
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