Donor conference for Yemen to kick off amid conflict, pandemic

The UN, Saudi Arabia are seeking $2.4bn to keep aid flowing amid the COVID-19 crisis

 A donor conference on Yemen was set to kick off on Tuesday as the United Nations aspires to shore up financial support for aid operations in the war-torn country. The video pledging event is co-hosted by Saudi Arabia, which is leading a military alliance fighting Iran-linked rebels in Yemen, and the United Nations.

UN agencies and their global partners are seeking $2.4bn to keep aid flowing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. They also want to continue to support millions affected by the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Yemen has so far confirmed a total of 323 infections and 80 deaths from the novel coronavirus.

Last week, the heads of 17 organisations representing the international humanitarian community said they were "running out of time" to keep operations in Yemen.

"Tragically, we do not have enough money to continue this work," they said in a joint statement.

"Of 41 major UN programmes in Yemen, more than 30 will close in the next few weeks if we cannot secure additional funds. This means many more people will die," they said.

Yemen has been in the grip of a devastating power struggle since the Houthi rebels took over the capital Sana'a and other cities late in 2014.

The Houthis' advance on the Saudi-backed Yemeni government seat of Aden prompted Saudi Arabia to form the Sunni coalition and start an air campaign against the Shiite group in March 2015. The war has pushed Yemen, already one of the Arab world's poorest countries, to the verge of famine and devastated its health facilities.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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