Saudi alliance to give $1.5 billion in fresh Yemen aid
Yemeni children present documents to collect food rations provided by a local charity. - AP file
Riyadh - The kingdom said on Monday the coalition it heads in Yemen would also "lead the expansion of additional Yemeni ports".
By AP, AFP
Published: Mon 22 Jan 2018, 10:00 PM
Last updated: Wed 24 Jan 2018, 8:31 AM
Saudi Arabia on Monday announced $1.5 billion in new aid for Yemen, where nearly three years of conflict has devastated the local economy and pushed millions to the brink of famine, causing what the United Nations describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
The kingdom said on Monday the coalition it heads in Yemen would also "lead the expansion of additional Yemeni ports" to receive cargo and humanitarian assistance, ensure multiple daily flights of cargo planes carrying aid from Saudi Arabia to Yemen's Marib province and establish "safe passage corridors" to ensure transportation of aid to non-governmental organizations operating inside Yemen.
"The coalition will coordinate... $1.5 billion in new humanitarian aid funding for distribution across UN agencies and international relief organisations," the coalition announced in a statement.
The coalition pledged up to $40 million for the expansion of ports to accommodate additional humanitarian shipments, adding that it would set up an air corridor between Riyadh and the central Yemeni province of Marib to run multiple aid flights of C130 cargo planes.
The coalition has already pumped billions of dollars worth of aid into the country, yet the war has still cut food deliveries by more than half and pushed the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country to the edge of famine with outbreaks of cholera and diphtheria.
The coalition said it would set up 17 additional "safe-passage corridors" to facilitate overland transport for humanitarian organisations operating in the remote interiors of Yemen.
"The coalition is placing its military resources at the disposal of these broad-ranging humanitarian operations," said coalition spokesman Turki Al Maliki.
"We are backing a professionally planned and detailed humanitarian mission with military power and precision to guarantee that the humanitarian aid reaches the people who need it to lift their suffering."
The new aid programme seeks to open land, sea and air lanes to Yemen to boost monthly imports to 1.4 million metric tons from 1.1 million last year, the statement said.
The expansion of ports will be supported with up to $40 million from the Saudi-led coalition. The coalition said that it would also allocate up to $30 million to cover transportation costs of non-humanitarian shipments intended for the port of Hodeida, in rebel-held territory, to "their intended destination in Yemen".
Additionally, the kingdom said it will make a donation of up to $2 billion in fuel for the transportation of humanitarian aid.
Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition of nine Arab countries against Yemeni rebels and their allies, who overran Yemen's capital and forced the government into exile. The rebels, known Houthis, who are backed by Iran, continue to control the capital, Sanaa, and territory in Yemen's north, which borders Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia's announcement on Monday is being followed by a press conference as the kingdom and its embassies abroad assertively promote the country's recent humanitarian efforts in Yemen, including a deposit of $2 billion in Yemen's Central Bank last week after an urgent appeal was made to save the currency from collapse and the country from "inevitable famine". Yemen's currency slid further against the dollar late last year after the coalition blocked access to all of Yemen's ports for several weeks in response to a Houthi missile launched at the Saudi capital.
Yemen imports about 90 per cent of the country's staple food and nearly all of its fuel and medicine, according to the UN.
The United Nations says more than 22 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and 8 million are on the brink of famine.
The United Nations on Sunday made what it described as a record appeal for aid to Yemen, calling for nearly $3 billion in humanitarian relief for the crisis-plagued country.
The war has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced 3 million. The US supports the coalition with refueling, logistics and intelligence.
With most of the country lacking access to safe water and sanitation, more than one million suspected cases of cholera and more than 2,230 deaths were reported in Yemen last year. Some 380 cases of suspected diphtheria were also reported, causing at least 38 deaths, almost all among children.
World's 'worst humanitarian crisis' in numbers
> More than 10,000 people killed, 50,000 wounded and 2 million displaced due to the war, according to the UN
> More than 50,000 children are believed to have died in Yemen in 2017, according to Save the Children
> More than 8 million people are totally dependent on food assistance and considered a "step away from famine", says UN
> An estimated 17.8 million Yemenis are considered "food insecure," meaning they do not know where their next meal will come from.
> More than 400,000 children are suffering from acute malnutrition, according to the World Food Programme
> Some 15.7 million Yemenis lack access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation services, according to the ICRC
> Some 16.4m Yemenis lack access to adequate health care.
> Another 24.3 million lack access to public electricity
> Yemen, a country of 27 million people, imports about 90 per cent of its staple food and nearly all of its fuel and medicine.
> The price of petrol, diesel and cooking gas increased in December by more than 200 per cent from its pre-war cost.
> There were more than 1 million suspected cholera cases reported last year and more than 2,230 associated deaths, according to the World Health Organisation
> As of late December, there were 381 suspected diphtheria cases in Yemen and 38 associated deaths, nearly all of them children under 15.