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UN raises about $1.2bn out of over $4bn pledged by donors to help millions in Yemen

A worker carries a sack of wheat flour during the distribution of food aid by the local charity, Mona Relief, in Sana'a, Yemen, April 24, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

The United Nations says it has raised around $1.2 billion of a total of $4.3 billion the world body sought from donors at a pledging conference in Geneva to deliver aid to millions of Yemeni people this year.

The UN made the announcement on Monday hoping that the figure could reach $2 billion by the end of the week.

The Geneva gathering was the seventh donor conference for Yemen in seven years. The UN hopes the next conference could focus on rebuilding the war-torn country rather than staving off hunger.

"We've had 31 pledges announced today and these pledges come to just about $1.2 billion," UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said while addressing the conference, adding, "If we can make it $2 billion by the weekend, that would be great."

According to the UN’s estimate, more than 21.7 million people, which make up two-thirds of Yemen's population, need humanitarian assistance this year.

Erin Hutchinson, the Norwegian Refugee Council's Yemen chief, said the world has "abandoned Yemen at this crucial crossroads" by pledging only a quarter of the amount needed.

She added, "This is woefully inadequate and gives the signal that some humans are less valuable than others."

Yemen has been ravaged by a devastating war since 2014, which has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, both directly and indirectly, and pushed the nation to the brink of famine.

A truce that began on April 2 last year expired on October 2, but many of its provisions have held so far.

"After years of death, displacement, destruction, starvation and suffering, the truce delivered real dividends for people," UN chief Antonio Guterres told the conference, adding, "We have a real opportunity this year to change Yemen's trajectory and move towards peace."

Last year, the UN raised more than $2.2 billion to help aid agencies reach nearly 11 million people across the country every month.

On Monday, Griffiths hoped it would be the last such conference, saying, "The Yemeni crisis has gone on far too long, punishing millions of innocent people who didn't want it in the first place and deserve so much better."

Robert Mardini, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, also said with each passing year, post-conflict recovery became tougher for Yemen.

"Even if a lasting settlement were found, humanitarian needs would remain high for years to come," he said.

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