Yemen aid cuts to deepen as funds dry up: UN

Yemen aid cuts to deepen as funds dry up: UN
Further funding cuts to major UN aid programmes is threatening to deepen the suffering of a Yemeni population that is reliant on aid.
2 min read
16 February, 2022
The conflict in Yemen has left 80 percent the population reliant on help [Getty]

Yemenis face more cuts in humanitarian aid in coming months because of funding shortages that could reduce food rations in a country where millions face starvation, the United Nations aid chief warned, as the war sees its biggest escalation in years.

Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that by the end of January nearly two thirds of major UN aid programmes had already scaled back or closed.

"The humanitarian operation ... is about to start doing a lot less," Griffiths said. "Aid agencies are quickly running out of money, forcing them to slash life-saving programmes."

The UN's 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan received only 58 percent of the requested funds from donors, UN data shows. Competing demands on donors and concerns about aid obstruction in Yemen have contributed to the shortfall, although some donors did step up funds mid-2021 when warnings of famine escalated.

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The nearly seven-year-old war between Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group and a Saudi-led coalition, and ensuing economic collapse, have left 80 percent of Yemen's population reliant on help.

The World Food Programme has since January reduced rations for 8 million of the 13 million people it feeds a month, and Griffiths said rations may be cut further from March, or stopped.

Efforts for a ceasefire stalled as the warring sides ramp up military operations and resist compromise. The Houthis want a coalition blockade on areas the group holds lifted ahead of any truce talks, while Riyadh wants a simultaneous deal.

UN Yemen Envoy Hans Grundberg told Tuesday's briefing he continued to push for de-escalation while starting consultations next week with multiple Yemeni stakeholders.

"Trust is low and ending this war will require uncomfortable compromises which no warring party is currently willing to make," Grundberg said.

The Saudi-led alliance intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the government from the capital, Sanaa, in a conflict in which several Yemeni factions vie for power.