UN Appeals For $1.6bn For War-Ravaged Yemen

National Yemen

GENEVA -The United Nations on Friday appealed for $1.6 billion to help the millions of people in need of aid in war-torn Yemen, warning of a “looming catastrophe”.

The money is needed to address the “constantly increasing humanitarian needs in Yemen” until the end of 2015, Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN’s humanitarian agency, told reporters in Geneva.

He said more than “21 million people, or 80 percent of the population, is now estimated to be in need of some form of humanitarian aid.”

Friday’s funding appeal will meanwhile only cover aid, including food, water and shelter, to 11.7 million of the most vulnerable people in need, the UN said in a statement.

UN Under Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brian launched the aid appeal in Geneva on Friday, revising the figure up from a combined $1.02 billion requested in December and April.

At the launch, O’Brian warned that “a looming humanitarian catastrophe is facing Yemen,” according to a statement.

He described the situation in Yemen as a nightmare. “People across the country are struggling to feed themselves and their families and basic services are collapsing in all regions of the country,” he warned.

“Millions of families no longer have access to clean water, proper sanitation or basic healthcare. Deadly diseases such as dengue and malaria have broken out, and supplies for acute trauma care are running dangerously low,” he added.

Only about $200 million of the needed cash has so far been received, the UN said.

Saudi Arabia has pledged $274 million towards the UN appeal in April, and said last month it would hand over nearly as much in humanitarian aid outside the UN appeal system.

So far, the UN has not received any of the promised funds from Saudi Arabia, Laerke said, adding though that the country was on Friday expected to explain how the payments would be made.