Press release

Priti Patel drives new international action to tackle the forgotten humanitarian crisis in Yemen

International Development Secretary announces additional support to the humanitarian crisis and pushes for new action on humanitarian efforts on the ground.

Food distribution

Distribution of UK-funded wheat grain by the World Food Programme in Yemen. Picture: WFP/Ahmed Basha, Feb 2016

International Development Secretary Priti Patel co-hosted a high-level meeting on Yemen at the UN General Assembly (21 September) to secure urgent and concrete action on one of the worst and most forgotten humanitarian crises of our time.

The event brought together Ministers from across the world and UN bodies to agree a step change in the humanitarian effort on the ground, and to raise new financial support for critical humanitarian supplies, such as food, water, shelter and nutrition.

The UK made clear that the international community must do more to relieve humanitarian suffering in Yemen - where more than 80% of the country’s population are now in need of help - before it is too late. Children are starving, millions are too poor to buy food, hospitals and schools are collapsing across the country, and disease is rife due to unclean water and poor sanitation.

The UN committed to urgently deploying senior and experienced humanitarian experts across Yemen and a new mechanism to gather feedback from Yemenis to ensure that aid is getting through effectively.

Priti Patel announced an additional package of £37 million support to Yemen, which will bring the UK’s total humanitarian funding for the crisis to £100 million this year.

Priti Patel said:

The humanitarian situation in Yemen is the forgotten crisis that demands action. 7 million people are in desperate need of food and the threat of famine remains.

The international community must step up its response to match the seriousness of the challenges faced by people in Yemen.

The UK has provided food, water, shelter and medical supplies for more than a million desperate people in Yemen and our new support will help even more. But the international response remains critically underfunded. I urge other countries to follow Britain’s lead and make good on their commitments – only by working together we can help stem this disaster.

We cannot and will not stand back in silence whilst innocent people are suffering from such a lack of basic provisions such as food and clean water.

The UK’s new funding will be channelled through the UN Pooled Fund and international NGOs, who are on the ground in Yemen and have demonstrated that they can deliver humanitarian aid effectively, even in the most difficult circumstances.

Priti Patel also announced that the recently established Education Cannot Wait Fund, of which the UK is the largest contributor, has committed $15 million to education efforts in Yemen, as part of the global fund’s initial investments to provide education to out of school children in Yemen.

The new UK bilateral support will:

  • provide over 400,000 people with access to safe water

  • provide over 11,000 with food assistance

  • increase families’ livelihood stability and food security by helping 9,000 own their own livestock

  • help 300,000 access healthcare services

  • provide nearly 18,000 households with emergency food and shelter kits

  • deliver essential water and sanitation assistance to 114,200 people and

  • provide emergency cash transfers to up to 105,000 vulnerable people.

UK aid is already making a difference in Yemen, helping more than 1.3 million Yemenis with food, medical supplies, water, and emergency shelter.

Donors announced more than $400 million towards the humanitarian effort at the event. Additional concrete actions announced by UN agencies to collectively step up the international humanitarian response included better data and evidence to ensure we reach those most in need and stronger protection of civilians across the humanitarian response.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Yemen humanitarian UNGA event was co-chaired by the UK, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien (OCHA, Under-Secretary General) and Ambassador Hesham Youssef, Assistant Secretary-General for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
  2. Attendees at the event included Abdel-Malek al-Mikhlafi, Yemen Foreign Minister, Jamie McGoldrick , United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator to Yemen, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, Kuwait First Deputy Prime Minister, H.E. Reem Ibrahim Al Hashimy, UAE Minister for International Cooperation, H.E. Mr Sultan Al-Muraikhi, Qatar Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Commissioner Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Eric Postel, USAID Associate Administrator, Peter Maurer, President ICRC, Tony Lake, Executive Director UNICEF, High Commissioner Filippo Grandi, UNHCR, Ertharin Cousin, WFP Executive Director, and Ambassador William Lacy Swing, Director General International Organisation of Migration
  3. The international response to Yemen remains one of the most critically underfunded with the UN appeal only 39% funded (as of 19 September 2016)
  4. The UK has been delivering life-saving aid to people inside the country and at the forefront of pushing for increased humanitarian access It is the 4th largest donor to the Yemen crisis. The UK overall share of the UN humanitarian appeal has increased from 5% to 8%
  5. The Yemen Humanitarian Pooled Fund is a UN-led fund which ensures that humanitarian funding is well coordinated and delivered to meet priority needs set out in the UN Humanitarian Response Plan. Supporting pooled funds enables the UN to quickly and flexibly allocate funding to urgent needs and to the organisation best placed to deliver them. This was a key humanitarian reform commitment at the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS)
  6. Education Cannot Wait is a new global fund to transform the delivery of education in emergencies - one that joins up governments, humanitarian actors and development efforts to deliver a more collaborative and rapid response to the educational needs of children and youth affected by crises. The fund aims to reach all crisis-affected children and youth with safe, free and quality education by 2030

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Published 22 September 2016