Appeal to donor conference: “Life in Yemen is unbearable”

Status: 01.03.2021 7:37 p.m.

Millions of people in Yemen need help, but in 2020 too few donations were raised. At a donor conference, UN Secretary General Guterres appealed urgently to the states – without much success.

By Dietrich Karl Mäurer,
ARD studio Zurich

The humanitarian situation in Yemen has never been worse than it is now: At the start of the donor conference, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres painted a gloomy picture of the country on the Arabian Peninsula. There is a threat of famine, he said:

It is impossible to exaggerate the extent of the suffering in Yemen. More than 20 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian aid and protection, with women and children being hardest hit. Two out of three people in Yemen are in need of food aid, medical care or other life-saving assistance from humanitarian organizations.

Dietrich Karl Mäurer

Dietrich Karl Mäurer
ARD studio Zurich

The UN Secretary General went on to say that diseases such as Covid-19 and cholera made the situation worse. For most of the 28 million inhabitants, life in Yemen is now unbearable. Around 400,000 girls and boys under five are malnourished and could die this year if they don’t get help.

$ 1.9 billion last year

After just half of the hoped-for and required donations were collected at a similar international donor conference last year with 1.9 billion dollars and aid organizations had to reduce their efforts as a result, Guterres now urgently appealed to the virtually assembled state representatives to open their purses:

This is not the time to drop Yemen. We have to reach and exceed the means we had in 2018 and 2019 again. This year we need more than $ 3.8 billion to help 16 million Yemenis on the verge of disaster. I implore all donors to generously support our appeal today to prevent a famine in the country. Every dollar counts.

The civil war in Yemen has been going on for almost six years. On the one hand the government is fighting, supported by Saudi Arabia and other countries, on the other hand the Houthi rebels supported by Iran are fighting. Tens of thousands were killed and millions had to flee.

Maas: appeal to the conflicting parties

Germany promised support for the Yemeni people. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas pledged 200 million euros – for humanitarian aid, stabilization measures and development aid. The minister used his speech to point out that the suffering in Yemen is made by people:

In recent weeks, the humanitarian situation has worsened due to the recent Houthi offensive in Marib. Enough is enough! All conflicting parties must immediately stop the fighting and join the initiative of UN-Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths for a nationwide ceasefire, confidence-building measures and the start of a comprehensive political process.

Disappointing result

UN Secretary General Guterres also appealed to the warring parties and their supporters to show the will for peace. It is now the fifth time that a high-level donor conference has been convened to respond to the crisis in Yemen, he said. “The bitter truth is that if the war doesn’t end, we’ll be calling a sixth event next year.”

The bitter certainty after the conference: The financial resources for emergency aid remain extremely scarce. In total, only around 1.7 billion dollars (1.4 billion euros) in donations were raised – less than half the amount needed and even less than last year.

Start of the UN donor conference for Yemen

Karl Dietrich Mäurer, ARD Zurich, March 1, 2021 6:15 p.m.

Leave a Comment