UN recognises UAE and Saudi Arabia for contributions to humanitarian response in Yemen

The United Nations released on Wednesday statistics on the significant progress made in addressing humanitarian need in Yemen thanks to the contributions of the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in cooperation with over 150 implementing partners.

The UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the World Food Programme (WFP), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the Yemeni Women's Union presented 2018 data showing rapid expansion of humanitarian coverage across Yemen in many sectors, including nutrition, health, and education, among others. The UAE has contributed US$465 million of the requested $2.1 billion that the UN is using to implement its Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (YHRP).

Ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, UAE's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, praised the progress while also contextualising it in the current military operation in the Hodeidah governorate.

"The YHRP embodies the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, and we are honored to join other donors in investing in OCHA and the UN system through this plan," she said. "As the operation in Hodeidah continues, implementation of the YHRP – and the humanitarian access and compliance with international humanitarian law it requires – remains our top priority. Alongside the current surge of pre-positioned aid for Hodeidah, there is a rapid expansion of country-wide aid capacity through other ports, airlifts, and land corridors, conducted in coordination with the UN."

Additionally, she thanked the UN workers on the ground and local NGOs for the vital work they are doing, and affirmed the UAE’s commitment to helping facilitate their efforts and support the Yemeni people in coming years.

During the event, Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Head of OCHA, hailed the UAE’s joint pledge with Saudi Arabia totaling $930 million. On the pledge, he stated it "was unconditional, except for the fact that the money was to be used for the UN’s response plan, and was unearmarked. In other words, it was our favourite kind of funding."

He noted that the pledge, alongside that of donors like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UK, and the European Union, among others, has allowed for immediate deployment of assistance, turning around the situation on the ground. The UN is currently able to provide aid to seven million Yemenis per month, compared to the three million per month in 2016.

David Beasley, Executive Director of WFP, commended the contributions made by the UAE and other donors, noting the immediate effect on the distribution of services and aid in Yemen. He expressed that "the UAE and Saudi Arabia stepped up in an extraordinary way," and added that it was not only in terms of financial support, but also logistics, supplies, and access. He highlighted that through the UAE’s and Saudi Arabia’s support, WFP is providing critical support for the eight million civilians who are on the brink of famine. He noted, however, that "things have taken a negative turn with regards to [humanitarian] access with the Houthis." He also reported that Houthi forces in Hodeidah are digging trenches and cutting off water supplies, with implications for the spread of cholera.

"Conflict always poses a serious challenge for humanitarian relief and priority must always be given to resolving conflict through a political process," stated Ambassador Nusseibeh. "With the YHRP, we have set a powerful precedent for how the UN can work with a huge range of partners and parties to ensure that the humanitarian needs of all Yemenis can be met."

Since April 2015, the UAE has provided nearly $4 billion of aid to Yemen. The $465 million contribution through the YHRP represents the UAE’s largest-ever multilateral contribution.

The YHRP is unique in employing the entire UN humanitarian system to address the humanitarian situation in Yemen, based on a sectoral cluster system where agencies contribute collectively to agreed outcomes.

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