Switzerland commits CHF14 million to UN fundraising appeal for Yemen

The UN has identified famine-like conditions in certain parts of Yemen for the first time in two years. Keystone / Yahya Arhab

Switzerland has pledged CHF14 million ($15.3 million) towards the United Nations humanitarian activities in Yemen, where over six years of war has created the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. 

This content was published on March 1, 2021 - 16:19

The announcement was made by Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis at a virtual high-level pledging event on Monday, co-hosted by the governments of Switzerland and Sweden. It takes Switzerland’s total financial contribution to humanitarian activities in Yemen to CHF71 million over the past five years. 

Cassis spoke immediately after the opening remarks made by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.  

“Today, famine is bearing down on Yemen. The race is on, if we want to prevent hunger and starvation from taking millions of lives,” Guterres told the conference. 

The fundraising event aims to raise around $3.9 billion (CHF 3.56 billion) needed this year for UN’s operations in Yemen. In 2020, the global body received only around half of the $3.4 billion in funding it had asked for. Humanitarian organisations have had to cut back or close down some of their facilities. 

According to the UN Development Programme, the conflict in Yemen has killed some 130,000 people and reversed development gains by 20 years. Half of Yemen’s health facilities are closed or destroyed and four million Yemenis have been forced to flee their homes. The pandemic, cholera epidemics and severe malnutrition among children have led to thousands of additional deaths. 

Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has warned that over 16 million people in Yemen would go hungry this year, with already some half a million living in famine-like conditions. 

“We need to develop a more sustainable approach in order to build brighter prospects for the people of Yemen,” said Cassis in his speech. “That will require us to closely coordinate humanitarian, development, human rights and peacekeeping efforts in the country.” 

The Swiss minister said the humanitarian situation had worsened in Yemen due to the coronavirus pandemic. He called for "unhindered" humanitarian access and insisted that international humanitarian law be respected. 

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