UK's 'inexplicable' cut to Yemen aid sparks outrage
Britain has drastically cut its aid to Yemen, under the pretext that the coronavirus pandemic has created "a difficult financial context for us all".
The UK government said it would provide "at least" £87 million ($120 million) in aid this year, a little over half of the £164 million ($228 million) it pledged last year.
The sharp cut was announced on Monday at a virtual donors' conference by Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly.
"Recent global challenges meant a difficult financial context for us all," Cleverly said.
London's decrease in aid was deplored by officials.
Jeremy Hunt, the former foreign secretary, said he was "deeply disappointed" and added that the "timing is inexplicable with the UN warning only last week that Yemen faces the worst famine the world has seen for decades".
UN's Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that generous donations had averted a famine in 2018, but that "today, reducing aid is a death sentence" to Yemeni civilians.
UN officials warned at the event that if the UN failed to meet its $3.85bn target for 2021, millions of Yemenis could face starvation.
David Beasley, Executive Director of UN's World Food Programme, told the conference: "We've got famine knocking on the door."
The US pledged an extra $191m at the conference - bringing its total aid for Yemen to $350m this year.
According to the latest UN data, more than 16 million Yemenis - about half the 29 million population - will face hunger this year.
The world body has warned that 400,000 Yemeni children under the age of five could die from acute malnutrition.