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Preventing hunger together  Yemen

Children fill canisters with water.

The catastrophic humanitarian situation in Yemen is growing even worse., © picture alliance / Photoshot

01.03.2021 - Article

According to the United Nations, Yemen is currently experiencing the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. The conflict has taken the country to the brink of collapse. Today, the international community is holding a pledging event to address the humanitarian emergency.

Germany has agreed to provide aid to the tune of 200 million euro in 2021. The catastrophic humanitarian situation in Yemen is growing even worse: After more than six years of armed conflict, some two-thirds of the population, or 21 million people, are dependent on humanitarian assistance and protection. The COVID-19 pandemic, along with cholera and polio outbreaks, plagues of locusts and the continued economic and currency crisis, are further compounding the situation. International aid is barely enough to provide life-saving measures, not least because despite significant efforts by some donors there is still a lack of funds. Last year, the United Nations (UN) had at its disposal only half of the funds that it estimated were required. If sufficient funds cannot be raised swiftly, Yemen is in imminent danger of widespread famine.

Pledging event for urgently needed assistance

In light of the dramatic situation, the United Nations, Sweden and Switzerland will today be hosting a High-Level Pledging Event for Yemen. The aim is to collect funds for this year’s UN aid plan, on the basis of which assistance will be provided by various UN organisations, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, as well as NGOs. The United Nations estimates the need for 2021 to be 3.85 billion US dollars.

Germany is one of the biggest donors to Yemen. Foreign Minister Maas today pledged to provide a total of 200 million euro in assistance in 2021. This comprises 127 million euro in humanitarian assistance from the Federal Foreign Office and 73 million euro in structural transitional aid from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Major obstacles faced by humanitarian workers

A significant problem in Yemen is that humanitarian aid workers on the ground are repeatedly prevented from carrying out their planned activities and distributing humanitarian assistance to the people who urgently need it. This can include local authorities’ refusal to authorise, or delaying of, respective projects, as well as the blocking of humanitarian access to affected areas. In addition to its wide-ranging humanitarian action, Germany and its international partners are therefore engaged with the relevant national authorities to ensure that the assistance actually reaches people in Yemen.

Germany is also working to address the problem of humanitarian aid workers being underfunded – because it is the entire international community that must make an effort and come to the aid of people in Yemen. What is more, pledged funding must be swiftly disbursed. The German Government is engaged in intensive diplomatic efforts to make sure that important donors, including those in the region, make this happen.

No end to the humanitarian crisis without an end to the conflict

The underlying cause, however, of the humanitarian crisis is the ongoing conflict. According to the United Nations, there is a direct correlation between hunger and conflict, for it is in regions that see the most fighting that people are most strongly affected by hunger, insufficient medical care and displacement.

That is why Germany’s foreign policy efforts will continue to focus on achieving a lasting ceasefire and a return to the political process facilitated by Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Yemen. To aid this UN-led process, the German Government is supporting respective mediation efforts.

Additional stabilisation work is being done at the local level: projects with key political actors in the country are helping to build peaceful conflict resolution mechanisms and make available basic governmental services. As the largest contributor to, and co-initiator of, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Peace Support Facility for Yemen, the German Government promotes confidence-building measures between the parties to the conflict. These include the planned mission to perform maintenance on the damaged FSO SAFER oil vessel off the coast of Yemen, to avert an oil spill.

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