Aid agencies running out of money in Yemen, UN warns

DAILY SABAH WITH WIRES
Istanbul
Published 21.02.2019 00:05

Despite very large amounts of money in aid pledged in response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis, aid agencies suffer from limited money that could run out in six weeks, the chief of the United Nations' relief effort said on Tuesday.

The U.N. estimates that delivering all the life saving and protection programs will cost more than $4 billion, according to the response plan released on Tuesday. Mark Lowcock told the U.N. Security Council that funding is quickly becoming the biggest challenge facing the aid operation, the biggest humanitarian relief operation in the world. Yemen's currency has been losing value again, as the effects of an injection of foreign exchange from Saudi Arabia in late 2018 wear off. The price of food is rising as a result, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis, Lowcock said. The operational challenges in getting aid to those who need it are "daunting," but manageable, unlike funding-related challenges, he said. "Without adequate resources, the aid operation will grind to a halt at a time when more people need more help than ever," Lowcock added.

The Yemen war has resulted in the worst humanitarian crisis in the world with an estimated 24 million people, close to 80 percent of the population, in need of assistance and protection in Yemen, according to the U.N. The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is the former Saudi defense minister, and Saudi Arabia's allies launched Operation Decisive Storm in March 2015.

Amid a series of international warnings, continuing military support from Western countries, which includes arms sales, for the Saudi-led coalition prompts further fears of escalating humanitarian crisis in the country. The U.S. had backed the Saudi-led coalition with midair refueling and targeting information. American lawmakers, angered by the Oct. 2 assassination and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, have been pushing to withdraw U.S. support. However, the latest report shows that the U.S. is still supporting the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen, an American army general told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Sunday, days after lawmakers voted to end involvement in Riyadh's war effort.

In France, Sebastien Nadot, a lawmaker elected as part of hundreds of new parliamentarians that form French President Emmanuel Macron's majority, drew attention to the French government's silence over continuing arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition, while unfurling a banner saying "France kills in Yemen" in the French assembly on Tuesday. Nadot also submitted a parliamentary inquiry last year to question the legality of French weapons sales to a Saudi-led coalition over concerns the arms are being used to kill civilians in Yemen. Lately, Saudi Arabia signed a preliminary agreement with France's Naval Group to build warships in the kingdom.

Military deals with Saudi Arabia have come under renewed scrutiny since the October killing of Khashoggi. Germany halted arms exports to Saudi Arabia over what it said was the uncertainty surrounding the murder.

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