US, EU step up Yemen aid but UN warns millions face hunger

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –


Donors led by the United States and European Union on Wednesday pledged another $600 million for Yemen, but the United Nations said that a financial shortfall meant that millions could go hungry.

The United States promised an additional $290 million but said the ultimate solution was to end the war that has led to what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian situation.

"Humanitarian assistance makes a critical difference in people's lives, but it alone cannot resolve this crisis," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement to a pledging event at the United Nations.

He called on Saudi Arabia, which has led a devastating air campaign in Yemen, as well as Huthi rebels and the government to help ensure the flow of fuel into the country, one factor that has destabilized the economy and kept staples out of reach for many Yemenis.

The European Union promised 119 million euros. Oxfam said around $600 million was pledged in total, although the UN plea for $3.9 billion to help Yemen was still underfunded by around $1 billion.

David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme, welcomed the new pledges but said that the UN agency still did not have enough to support the 12.9 million people dependent on aid, which is nearly half the country.

The World Food Programme expects it will need to cut rations for 3.2 million people in October and more in December, he said.

While donations have averted widespread famine, every 10 minutes a child in Yemen is dying from preventable causes, according to the United Nations.

"We are predicting that if we don't receive the funds that we need in the next 6 months -- which is $800 million -- when we start cutting rations, you could actually see that number go to 400,000 children under age five dying in the next year," Beasley said.

"What if that was your little girl, and your little boy? We have a moral obligation to speak out and step up."

He also said the priority needed to be on ending the war, in which the Huthi rebels have seized much of the nation as they battle a Saudi-backed government and a military coalition spearheaded by Riyadh.

"If donors are getting fatigued, well, end the war," Beasley said.