'World's worst humanitarian crisis': UN launches $3 billion appeal to help war-torn Yemen

'World's worst humanitarian crisis': UN launches $3 billion appeal to help war-torn Yemen
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched a funding drive for Yemen at a conference in Geneva on Tuesday, aiming to raise $2.96 billion (2.4 billion euros) for this year.

3 min read
03 April, 2018
More than 10,000 have been killed in the war since March 2015 [Getty]
The United Nations asked donors for nearly $3 billion to help an estimated 13 million people who urgently need aid in war-ravaged Yemen, reports said on Tuesday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched the funding drive at a conference in Geneva aiming to raise $2.96 billion (2.4 billion euros) for this year. 

"Yemen is the world's worst humanitarian crisis," Guterres said, calling the situation "catastrophic." 

"But with international support, we can and must prevent this country from becoming a long-term tragedy," he said. 

Saudi Arabia and its allies shut down the country's land, sea and air borders last year in response to a missile attack by the Houthi rebels that was intercepted near Riyadh.

While the coalition has somewhat eased the blockade, restriction on deliveries persist in a country battered since 2015 by a Saudi-led military offensive aimed at repelling rebels who control the capital. 

"Humanitarians must be able to reach the people who need help the most, without conditions," Guterres said.  

"All ports must remain open to humanitarian and commercial cargo, the medicines, food and the fuel needed to deliver them," he added.

Last year's Yemen appeal was for $2.5 billion, which was 73 percent funded, but the needs have intensified since.

Read also: The Arab coalition in Yemen may provide aid but it also debilitates the country

More than 10,000 Yemenis have been killed and 53,000 wounded since the start of the coalition intervention in Yemen.

The funding appeal came a day after several children were among those killed in a strike on the rebel-held port of Hodeidah.

The UN called the incident "one of the deadliest attacks on children since the conflict in Yemen escalated in March 2015". 

The coalition is the only force known to carry out airstrikes on Houthi rebel-held territory and has previously admitted to "erroneous" strikes that caused civilian casualties. 

Civilian casualties from coalition airstrikes have drawn criticism from rights groups, and in October the UN placed the alliance on a "blacklist" for killing and maiming children.

The United Nations is making a fresh push for peace talks in Yemen, where the coalition acted to support the internationally-recognised government after the Houthis seized the capital.

The UN chief has appointed a new peace envoy, Martin Griffiths, who was in the rebel-held capital Sanaa last week for talks on kick-starting the political process, following a first round of meetings in Riyadh.

UN diplomats believe the new effort could succeed because Iran has sent signals that it is willing to pressure the Houthis to seek a settlement.