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Guterres praises donors USD 2 billion aid for Yemen

twitter-logoPTI | April 4, 2018 | Updated 13:27 IST

By Yoshita Singh

United Nations, Apr 4 (PTI) UN chief Antonio Guterres has said aid alone will not provide a solution to the conflict in Yemen even as he lauded several member states for pledging nearly USD 2 billion in assistance for the war-torn country.

Guterres said an appeal that raised about USD 2 billion to help millions of people in Yemen was a "remarkable success of international solidarity" for the countrys war-weary people.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva after opening the pledging conference for Yemen, Guterres said that USD 2 billion had been promised by member states before the end of the event.

"We need a serious political process to lead to a political solution because there was never a humanitarian solution for any humanitarian crisis. The solution has always been political and in Yemen what we need is a political solution for these pledging conferences not to be repeated in the future," he said.

Describing as "catastrophic" the situation in Yemen where in every 10 minutes a child under five dies of preventable causes, the Secretary-General stressed that while humanitarian resources were very important, they were not enough and it was essential that the aid reached the needy people.

"And for that, we need unrestricted access into Yemen; we need unrestricted access everywhere inside [the country]," he said.

UN aid chief Mark Lowcock also echoed Guterres view, saying there was a need for better access across the country.

"We want to see Sanaa airport reopen to commercial flights, notably for humanitarian cases," Lowcock said.

The event was co-chaired by the UN and the governments of Sweden and Switzerland.

Pledges were made by 40 member states and organisations, including the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), for humanitarian action in Yemen in 2018.

International pledges for nearly USD 2 billion represent almost double the amount raised in 2017 to fund humanitarian aid in the Arabian Peninsula country.

Yemen has been at war for more than three years. The ongoing conflict is between an international coalition forces supporting President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi on the one side and Houthi militias and allied units of the armed forces on the other, which seized control of the capital Sanaa.

Aid agencies have repeatedly warned about the toll this has taken on non-combatants - forced and repeated displacement of families, massive food insecurity and the collapse of essential services including healthcare and education.

In 2017, the worlds worst outbreak of cholera to date affected one million Yemenis, and diphtheria is now on the rise in what was already one of the poorest and most vulnerable countries in the region before fighting erupted.

Latest UN data indicate that a record 22.2 million people ? some 75 per cent of the population ? now need humanitarian assistance.

The UN chief said "a horrifying 8.4 million of these do not know how they will obtain their next meal".

Lowcock, who is the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, stressed the dire situation faced by millions of families in Yemen.

The USD3 billion appeal target represented a "substantial sum of money", he said, but it was "small in relation to the needs" of Yemenis.

Many now face a 25 per cent rise in the cost of food, the UN official said, explaining that the country imported nearly all of its daily requirements and had been hit hard by the sharp devaluation of the countrys currency, the Yemeni Rial. PTI YAS MRJ MRJ

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