Friday , November 24 2017

Kuwait pledges $100m to Yemen – $1.1b raised

Delegates attend the high-level pledging event for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva on April 25. (AP)

GENEVA, April 25, (Agencies): The State of Kuwait is earmarking $100 million as a contribution to international relief aid for the Yemeni people.

Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister Khaled Suleiman Al-Jarallah, who declared the financial allocation at a high-profile international pledging conference for Yemen, held here on Tuesday, indicated that the specialized fund was follow-up to a previous sum, $300 million, allotted for the Yemeni people.

The previous fund was in the form of soft loans, provided by Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), to finance development projects in Yemen. It was declared during a ministerial meeting of friends of Yemen, held in New York in 2012.

Al-Jarallah expressed in his speech conviction that the ideal solution to the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Yemen required restoration of stability, “a matter that could be attained through political settlement according to the three references and greater effort by the international community, represented by the Security Council.” The references mentioned by Al-Jarallah are outcome of the national dialogue, the GCC initiative and relevant UN resolutions. In essence, these initiatives call for restoration of the legitimacy and withdrawal of the rebels from the cities they have conquered.

Houthi militias have seized several towns and cities, namely the Capital Sanaa, in the fighting against pro-government forces.

The deputy foreign minister expressed concern that the Security Council’s failure to resolve the crisis in Syria might be replayed in Yemen. He regretted that marathon inter-Yemeni negotiations ended without tangible breakthrough.

He, however, expressed readiness to re-host “the Yemeni brothers” to ink a final conciliation agreement, in case the parties reached a settlement.

The senior Kuwaiti official renewed the call upon the Yemeni groups to return to the negotiating table to find a settlement to the annihilating conflict.

He lauded presence of the Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmad Obeid Bin Dhaghar at the conference as an indication of his government’s keenness on tackling the humanitarian issue in his country.

The State of Kuwait shares with the international community the concern regarding the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the brotherly Republic of Yemen, where the Arab coalition has exerted great efforts to taper them off by enabling hand-over of international aid to regions under the allied forces’ control, Al-Jarallah said.

On these bases, the State of Kuwait has praised the humanitarian response plan for Yemen (2017) designed to meet the humanitarian needs “of our Yemeni brothers” — outlined in the humanitarian requirements’ documents put on the table at the conference.

“Success of the international community in attaining the objectives and meeting the humanitarian needs warrant restoration of control by the legitimate government; through executing resolutions of the international legitimacy, allowing inflow of humanitarian supplies to the contested areas and granting permits for humanitarian activities,” he said.

In 2015, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah declared allocating $100 million in aid for the Yemeni people, he said, also noting that the Kuwaiti support for the Yemeni people dated to decades ago.

The UN secretary-general says international donors at the Geneva aid conference have pledged $1.1 billion to help beleaguered, war-torn Yemen this year.

Antonio Guterres hailed the pledges after wrapping up the daylong meeting Tuesday, saying it had raised half of the $2.1 billion in funds sought this year in a UN appeal for Yemen.

Coming into the conference, Guterres lamented that the appeal had only been about 15 percent funded.

Yemen’s war has killed over 10,000 civilians and pushed the Arab world’s poorest nation to the brink of famine. Aid groups want improved access to people in need, a halt to airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition that is fighting Yemen’s Shiite rebels, and more respect for international law.

“Yemen today is experiencing a tragedy of immense proportions,” the UN Secretary General told country representatives gathered in Geneva for an aid pledging conference.

“We are witnessing the starving and the crippling of an entire generation,” he said, adding that Yemen is gripped by “the world’s largest hunger crisis”.

Appealing to donors, he stressed that “a famine can be prevented if we act quickly and commit to funding crucial life-saving assistance”.

The conference, co-hosted by the Swiss and Swedish foreign ministers, comes after the UN in February said Yemen needed $2.1 billion (1.9 billion euros) of aid this year alone.

The UN had warned that unless international donors stepped up their response the war-torn country faced a “serious risk of famine”.

UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien told the conference that Yemen was “the world’s largest humanitarian crisis today.”

A total of 17 million people, or around 60 percent of its population, are going hungry, while seven million of them do not know where their next meal is coming from and need immediate food aid, the UN said.

Children especially are bearing the brunt of the crisis.

“On average, a child under the age of five dies of preventable causes in Yemen every 10 minutes,” Guterres said.

“This means 50 children in Yemen will die during today’s conference, and all those deaths could have been prevented.”

Many of the children who survive “will be affected by stunting and poor health for their entire lives,” he added.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom noted that with two million children out of school, there is a growing risk of recruitment by armed groups, while two-thirds of girls are married off before the age of 18.

“We must act now”, she said.

Protestors

Yemeni protestors reached the Red Sea city of Hodeida Tuesday, ending a weeklong march from the capital to demand the rebel-held port be declared a humanitarian zone.

Some 25 protestors made the 225-km (140-mile) walk, dubbed the “march for bread”, to call for unrestricted aid deliveries to Yemen, where Iran-backed Houthi rebels have battled government forces allied with a Saudi-led Arab coalition for two years.

Protestors waved flags emblazoned with loaves of bread and chanted slogans demanding the port be spared in the war, which the United Nations estimates has killed more than 7,700 people and left millions struggling to find food.

“The Hodeida port has nothing to do with war … Let them fight anywhere, but leave the port alone. The port is for our women, children, our old people,” said protestor Ali Mohammed Yahya, who walked for six days from Sanaa to Hodeida.

Hodeida, the main entry point for aid, is currently controlled by the Houthis but fears are mounting over a potential coalition military offensive to seize control of the port.

The United Nations last week urged the Saudi-led coalition not to bomb Hodeida, the fourth most populated city in Yemen.

Rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday warned a military offensive “would be devastating far beyond Hodeidah since the city’s port is a crucial access point for lifesaving international aid”.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition has however denied plans to launch an offensive on Hodeida.

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