CAIRO (AP) — The United Nations is seeking $4.3 billion at a pledging conference Monday to alleviate the suffering of millions of people in Yemen, where an eight-year civil war has created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
More than 21 million people in Yemen, or two-thirds of the country’s population, need help and protection, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, which says the humanitarian needs in Yemen are “shocking.” Among those in need, more than 17 million are considered particularly vulnerable.
Monday’s high-level gathering is co-hosted by Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.N. in the organization’s Palais des Nations in Geneva. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will address donors on the dire humanitarian situation in the Arab world’s poorest country.
The $4.3 billion appeal is almost double the $2.2 billion that the U.N. received in 2022 to fund its humanitarian program in Yemen. The U.N. had sought $4.27 billion for 2022.
Monday’s conference comes as the global economy remains rattled by the yearlong Russian invasion of Ukraine. Inflation rates have surged over the past year across the world, forcing many governments to focus on elevating the needs of their own people.
Yemen’s conflict started in 2014, when the Iran-backed rebel Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, and much of the country’s north. A Saudi-led, U.S.-backed coalition intervened months later, in early 2015, to try and dislodge the rebels and restore the internationally recognized government to power.
The conflict has in recent years become a regional proxy war that has killed more than 150,000 people, including over 14,500 civilians. The war has also created a horrendous humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical care shortages and pushing the country to the brink of famine.
The conference is taking place as the warring sides continue to observe an informal and fragile cease-fire. Efforts are underway to declare a new truce after the parties failed to renew a U.N.-brokered truce in October.
The truce, which took effect in April, brought some relief for Yemenis, especially in Houthi-held areas. It enabled commercial traffic to resume at Sanaa’s airport and the sea port of Hodeida.
However, partly because of the territorial division — with roughly half of Yemen under Houthi control and the other half under government control — the country is haunted by an economic crisis. There is dual system of currency, dual exchange rates, restrictions on imports and double taxation on goods, according to the U.N. Panel of Experts investigating Yemen’s conflict. Annual inflation reached 45%, and food prices surged 58%, according to the panel’s report.
There have also been Houthi attacks on oil facilities in government-held areas, resulting in the disruption of oil export, which is a major source of funds for the government.
Climate change has added to the suffering. Yemen, located at the southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, is “at the forefront” of global climate crisis, as natural disasters, including floods and arid weather, threaten lives, OCHA said.
In 2022, Yemen suffered from severe drought, heavy rainfall, and flooding, impacting more than 517,000 people and damaging public and civilian infrastructure in many provinces between July and September last year, according to OCHA.