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AFP
June 3, 2020

Saudi Arabia seeks to raise $2.3b in Yemen donor conference

World

AFP
June 3, 2020

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia seeks to raise $2.3 billion from an emergency donor conference Tuesday to support war-battered Yemen as it faces a coronavirus catastrophe in the sixth year of the kingdom’s military intervention.

The virtual conference, which Riyadh is co-hosting with the United Nations, comes as aid groups warn that the fast-spreading virus could wreak havoc after years of war and amid crippling funding shortages.

“A total of $2.3 billion is being sought to cover emergency requirements in Yemen across multiple humanitarian sectors, including medical, food and shelter assistance,” a Saudi government statement said. Britain, a leading arms supplier to Saudi Arabia, stepped in Tuesday with a new aid package for Yemen worth £160 million ($200 million).

“This targeted UK aid package will mean the difference between life and death for thousands of Yemenis who now also face the threat of coronavirus,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement. Britain’s International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the funds aimed to provide support to at least 300,000 vulnerable people each month.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan as well as Mark Lowcock, UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, were to take part in the aid conference. Lowcock has flagged a funding requirement of $2.4 billion for Yemen by the end of the year, including $180 million to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Yemen is already gripped by what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. As coronavirus spreads, some 5.5 million people risk losing access to food and clean water in Yemen this year, a survey by 24 international aid groups including Save the Children, said ahead of the conference. “The largest humanitarian crisis in the world is now compounded by an unprecedented pandemic,” a statement said.