CAIRO (AP) — The World Bank has approved an additional $300 million for desperately needed aid for the poorest and most vulnerably households in war-torn Yemen, as well as for helping the country fight the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement released Thursday.
Humanitarian efforts in Yemen were dealt a blow earlier this month when the United Nations raised only $1.3 billion — less than a third of what the organization had targeted to help the Arab world’s poorest country. There are growing fears that the humanitarian needs of Yemen will become overshadowed by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“This additional financing will provide social safety nets and cash transfers to protect poor and vulnerable households across Yemen,” said Tania Meyer, World Bank Country Manager for Yemen. “The program will provide immediate relief to households, as well as strengthen their resilience to food insecurity and malnutrition in the future.”
Since 2016, the World Bank has allocated a total of US$2.5 billion to help the Yemeni people. The new grant, which comes from World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries is also expected to help Yemen’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, added the statement. So far, more than 2,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Yemen, according to figures reported by Yemeni authorities, though the actual pandemic death toll is believed to be much higher.
Yemen’s brutal war erupted in 2014 after the Houthis seized Sanaa. The Saudi-led coalition entered the war the following year to try restore the internationally recognized government. The conflict has in recent years become a regional proxy war that has killed more than 150,000 people, including over 14.500 civilians. It also created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.
The majority of Yemen’s roughly 32 million people live in Houthi-held areas. The rebels have for years been implicated in aid theft and withholdings in extortion schemes. More than 161,000 Yemenis are likely to experience famine over the second half of 2022, according to U.N. agencies and aid groups.
Initially, the U.N. had set out to raise $4.27 billion to help alleviate the disaster in Yemen. However, it raised less than one third of that at a pledging conference for Yemen earlier this month.