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UN Humanitarian Funding

The UN’s main event to raise money for humanitarian aid to Yemen, the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen, raised US$1.3 billion on March 16, just 30 percent of the US$4.3 billion UN funding appeal for the 2022 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). As of the end of March, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) was reporting that just US$66.5 million in pledged funds had thus far been received. The High-Level Pledging Event, jointly hosted by the UN, Sweden and Switzerland, occurred a month after UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths warned millions face a “death sentence” if funding gaps were not addressed.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, whose active participation in the Yemen war has been a major contributor to the humanitarian crisis, were among the largest contributors of funding to previous Yemen HRPs. Neither country made any financial commitment to this year’s UN relief effort. Meanwhile, the United States tripled its contribution from US$191 million in 2021 to US$584.6 million in 2022, and the European Commission doubled its contribution.

It is typical for UN appeals to fall short of targets; in both 2020 and 2021, the Yemen HRP received less than 60 percent of requested funds, a drop of almost one-third from 2019. Among the factors playing into this decline have been donor countries redirecting budgets to address domestic economic fallout related to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as increasing concerns that UN-led relief efforts in Yemen are not efficiently and effectively using the funds they are allocated. The UN had already announced major program cuts in Yemen, including one in January reducing by nearly half the food assistance received by 8 million people. The continued absence of funding for the Yemen HRP in 2022 to date is unprecedented, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine likely to further draw donor attention away from Yemen, where two-thirds of the population requires humanitarian assistance. Aid funding is also a significant source of foreign currency in Yemen and with its decline further downward, pressure on the Yemeni rial and upward pressure on commodity prices can be expected.

MSF Suspends Work in Marib After Abductions

On March 13, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, announced the suspension of some of its humanitarian activities in Marib governorate following the abduction of two of its foreign employees. The workers were kidnapped March 6 in the Khashaa area, near Marib’s border with Hadramawt governorate. (See: ‘AQAP Attacks and Kidnappings Increase, Daesh Appoints New Caliph’) The organization will halt operations in five of its eight mobile clinics in the governorate and withdraw its support of Marib General Hospital.

On March 1, MSF withdrew its staff from Abs Hospital in Houthi-controlled Hajjah governorate, citing safety concerns, before resuming operations there on March 5. On February 11, five UN employees were abducted in Abyan governorate while returning to Aden after a field mission. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is suspected of carrying out the abductions.

Other Humanitarian and Human Rights Developments in Brief:

  • American actress Angelina Jolie visited internally displaced and refugee communities in Aden, Lahj and Sana’a from March 6–8, in her capacity as a special envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Jolie’s three-day visit aimed to highlight Yemen’s needs and mobilize support for humanitarian action.