A market in Sana'a, Yemen. (Courtesy)

UN Aid Groups in Yemen Could Close Shop over Lack of Funds

UN aid groups in Yemen have made an urgent appeal for funding after 75% of them were forced to either reduce their operations or close entirely. The plea comes amidst an outbreak of coronavirus in the country, which has been decimated by a five-year war primarily pitting Iranian-backed Houthi rebels against a Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Arab states. The UN announced that health services it provides have already been cut in more than 50% of the hospitals in Yemen, while its World Food Program has started to reduce rations. “It’s almost impossible to look a family in the face, to look them in the eyes and say, ‘I’m sorry, but the food that you need in order to survive, we have to cut in half,’” Lise Grande, resident UN coordinator for Yemen, was quoted by media as saying. The decrease in funding has been attributed to a number of factors, but perhaps foremost is that the Houthis, who control many of Yemen’s large urban centers, including the capital Sanaa, have been accused of obstructing the delivery of aid or redistributing it among their supporters. It is estimated that 80% of Yemenis are to some degree dependent on foreign support, with the conflict having pushed millions of people to the brink of starvation. A UN donor conference for Yemen, set for Tuesday, is seeking to raise nearly $2.5 billion for the operation of essential projects between June and December.

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