UN forced to cut aid to war-torn Yemen
Aid organisations are making an urgent plea for funding to shore up operations in war-torn Yemen, saying they have already been forced to stop some of their work even as coronavirus rips through the country.
Some 75 per cent of UN programs in Yemen have had to shut their doors or reduce operations. The global body's World Food Program had to cut rations in half and UN-funded health services were reduced in 189 out of 369 hospitals nationwide.
"It's almost impossible to look a family in the face, to look them in the eyes and say, 'I'm sorry but the food that you need in order to survive we have to cut in half'," Lise Grande, resident UN coordinator for Yemen, told AP.
The dwindling funds are the result of several factors, including obstruction by Yemen's Houthi rebels, who control the capital Sanaa and other territories. The United States, one of the largest donors, decreased its aid to Yemen earlier this year, citing interference by the Houthis.
It's yet to be seen whether the Houthis will allow monitoring and oversight or give UN agencies the space to operate. A UN pledging conference for Yemen on Tuesday will seek $US2.4 billion ($A3.57 billion) to cover essential activities from June to December.
Grande said the Houthis were working to become more transparent and she hoped this would encourage donor countries to give aid.
Her optimism, however, comes as the Houthis face heavy criticism for suppressing information about the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in areas they control, while putting no mitigation measures in place.
Tuesday's conference will be co-hosted for the first time by Saudi Arabia - a major player in Yemen's civil war since first unleashing a bombing campaign in 2015 to try to push back the Iranian-backed Houthis who had seized the northern half of the country.
Critics question the Saudis' high-profile role in rallying humanitarian support even as they continue to wage a war - as do the Houthis - which has created the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
Reports indicate coronavirus is spreading at an alarming rate throughout the country.