DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Yemen's government and international donors must allocate over $700 million to help ease a deepening humanitarian crisis that includes widespread malnutrition in the Arabian peninsula's poorest country, U.N. agencies and international aid groups said Tuesday in a joint appeal.
International donors have pledged $7.9 billion in aid for Yemen to rebuild its crumbling economy and upgrade the country's infrastructure damaged during years of political turmoil and militant attacks. But it's unclear how much of that money has been dedicated for more immediate needs such as ensuring clear water and reliable food and medical supplies, the groups said during a gathering in Dubai.
Relief groups said at least $716 million is needed to address the immediate humanitarian concerns.
"We're asking the world that this be prioritized," said the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. "There will be no political stability in Yemen if we do not deal with the humanitarian crisis."
Ahmed estimated that 1 million children face acute malnutrition amid ongoing violence by militant factions and instability after the end of the three-decade rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh last year. He said 300,000 are at risk of dying from hunger, without explaining further how he came by that estimate.
Tuesday's consolidated appeal, which included U.N. organization such as UNICEF and UNHCR, follows a World Food Program report in September that said that nearly half of the 24 million Yemenis go to bed hungry every night.
International donors — including Europe, China, the U.S. and Gulf Arab states — have promised billions to Yemen, but are also demanding that Yemeni officials hasten political and security reforms. The West and allies fear Islamist militants could exploit Yemen's security weakness to gain more sway over the country.