The U.S. Department of State has pledged more than $444 million in additional humanitarian assistance to Yemen, bringing the total amount contributed by Yemen’s top donor to over $5.4 billion since conflict in the country began in 2014.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Feb. 27 that the donation illustrates “the continued generosity” of the United States, noting that the new financial assistance will enable U.S. partners to deliver “life-saving aid to Yemen’s most vulnerable people.”
“The United States’ commitment to alleviating the suffering of millions from the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains resolute,” Blinken said.
“To date, our support, combined with the continued benefits and relative calm created by the U.N.-brokered truce, enabled 2.2 million Yemenis to avoid experiencing acute food insecurity and tens of thousands of others to avoid slipping into famine-level conditions,” he added.
A U.N.-brokered truce initially agreed last April has delivered the longest stretch of relative calm and has largely held despite expiring in October without agreement between the warring sides to extend it.
Yemen’s eight-year conflict pits a Saudi Arabian-led military coalition against the Iran-aligned Islamist Houthi group, which ousted Yemen’s internationally-recognized government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and devastated the country’s infrastructure and economy.
Blinken said that nearly a decade of conflict has pushed the war-torn country’s economy and institutions “to the brink,” and families have been “left unable to buy basic goods, provide for their children, or access healthcare.”
The U.S. diplomat announced the United States’ latest contribution during an annual donor conference in Geneva, where he urged more donors to “give generously” to Yemen in order to meet a benchmark of more than $4 billion that was set by the United Nations to help provide more aid to millions of Yemenis.
“While today’s pledges are important, much more is needed,” Blinken said, noting that two-thirds of Yemen’s population—or about 21.6 million people—need “vital” humanitarian assistance.
According to U.N. data, the intergovernmental organization was unable to meet funding goals in 2022, collecting only $2.2 billion of the $4.27 billion sought. The United States, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and the European Union were the top four donors last year.
Underfunding has seen agencies scale back Yemen aid projects, including food rations, in the past couple of years.
“Last year, funding gaps forced the U.N. to scale back or cut over half of its life-saving programs, including emergency food assistance,” Blinken said. “That means intense hunger or life-threatening starvation for more than two million children facing deadly malnutrition.”
So far, the United Nations has been able to raise around $1.2 billion for its 2023 aid plan of $4.3 billion. According to a Geneva Solutions report, a total of 31 countries announced pledges during Monday’s conference.
The European Union announced the bloc’s largest pledge since the start of the conflict, amounting to $207 million, the Swiss-based nonprofit reported. Other large donors are the United Arab Emirates, which announced a $325 million donation, followed by Germany, which pledged $127 million.
The United States, Yemen’s top donor by far, provided more than $1 billion to the country in the fiscal year 2022, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Reuters contributed to this report.