UN says $3.9bn needed for help in Yemen as conflict escalates

The United Nations will need about $3.9bn this year to help millions of people in war-torn Yemen, a top UN humanitarian official has said.

Acting Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ramesh Rajasingham told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that “the biggest constraint right now is funding” to help about 16 million people in Yemen, where a brutal conflict has raged for more than seven years.

The war began in late 2014 when Houthi rebels seized the capital, Sanaa, prompting Saudi-led forces to intervene to prop up the government the following year.

Over the past month alone, escalating military action in Yemen displaced more than 15,000 people, killed or wounded more than 350 civilians and left the Arab world’s poorest nation facing growing hunger and economic collapse with no political solution in sight, the UN said.

“I call on all donors to sustain – and if possible, to increase – their support this year,” Rajasingham said.

He added that funding has been decreasing in recent years, with last year’s response plan only funded at 58 percent and with the UN World Food Programme in December announcing cuts in its assistance budget for eight million people.

“Other vital programmes, including water, protection and reproductive health services, have also been forced to scale back or close in recent weeks for lack of funds,” Rajasingham said.

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