The U.N. may be forced to cut 22 aid programs in the impoverished country of Yemen as they have only been able to collect half of the pledged donations for 2019 so far.
"Desperate" for funds in Yemen, the U.N. will be forced to cancel aid programs in the span of the next two months if the issue concerning cash shortage remains unresolved.
Lise Grande, the U.N.'s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen talked about the issue on Wednesday. "It's heartbreaking to look a family in the eye and say we have no money to help."
"When money doesn't come, people die," she added.
Food rations for 12 million people in the war-torn country will be reduced and at least 2.5 million malnourished children will be cut off from life-saving services in the coming months, if the aid programs get cancelled.
At a U.N. pledging conference in February, $2.6 billion dollars was pledged by donors to meet the urgent needs of more than 20 million Yemenis, but Grande said less than half the amount has yet been received.
U.N. deputy humanitarian chief Ursula Mueller told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that 12 million Yemenis have been assisted every month, "but much of this is about to stop" because only 34% of the U.N.'s $4.2 billion appeal for 2019 has been funded.
This time last year, 65% of the appeal was funded, including generous contributions from Yemen's neighbors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), she said. But this year, they have so far paid "only a modest share of what they promised." The U.N. humanitarian office in New York said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia and the UAE each pledged $750 million to its Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan for 2019, but so far the Saudis have contributed $127 million and the UAE $160 million. It said the Saudis have also given $89 million and the UAE $38 million to organizations working outside of the plan.
Grande expressed the U.N.'s gratefulness to its donors who have lived up to their promises, and in half the districts where people were facing famine "conditions have improved to the point where families are no longer at risk of starvation."
But she pointed out that of the 34 major U.N. humanitarian programs in Yemen, only three were actually fully funded for the entire year. Several have been forced to close in recent weeks, Grande added, and many large-scale projects designed to help destitute, hungry families have been unable to begin.
Without new funds in the coming weeks, 19 million people will also lose access to health care, including 1 million women who depend on the U.N. for reproductive health services. In addition, clean water programs for 5 million people will have to shut down at the end of October and tens of thousands of displaced families may find themselves homeless, according to Grande.
"Millions of people in Yemen, who through no fault of their own are the victims of this conflict, depend on us to survive," she said. "All of us are ashamed by the situation."