The UAE and Saudi Arabia have pledged $200 million for Yemen as a special humanitarian initiative during Ramadan, a UAE minister announced on Monday. Reem Al Hashimi, Minister of State for International Cooperation, said the donation is part of a $500 million joint initiative announced by both countries in November.
The funding is primarily for food, with a total of $140 million to be distributed through the World Food Programme.
Addressing a Press conference in Abu Dhabi, Al Hashimi said the food distribution is expected to reach the families in the weeks leading to and during the month of Ramadan.
“The timing of this support was chosen to meet urgent needs and to ensure the delivery of aid assistance in the coming weeks to allow the Yemeni people to maintain their traditions and to practise the customs of the holy month of Ramadan,” said the minister.
Around $40 million will be allocated to Unicef, especially for malnourished children and pregnant and nursing women as “women and children represent an important component of the UAE aid project”.
Another $20 million will be given to the World Health Organisation to help control cholera and provide intravenous feeding fluids.
Al Hashimi said as the situation in Yemen “continues to be difficult”, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are working together with humanitarian organisations to ensure that aid reaches all Yemeni governorates controlled by Houthis as well as the Yemeni government. “For the aid to be effective, it has to be transparent and non-discriminatory. And our aid goes to all those who need it,” she added.
In February this year, the UAE and Saudi Arabia jointly pledged $1 billion for Yemen at a UN pledging conference in Geneva.
The UAE donations to Yemen between April 2015 and December 2018 for food aid, energy supply, and health services touched Dh19.86 billion, according to official figures. About 32 per cent was spent on humanitarian aid and 68 per cent for development programmes. The World Food Programme received the maximum donation at $287 million, followed by Unicef, which got $410 million.
The civil war in Yemen that started in 2014 – in which the Saudi-led Arab coalition is fighting the Houthi rebels to reinstate the legitimate government – has pushed the country into a hunger crisis, with more than 20 million of its population facing food shortages.