Both UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the UN’s humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, publicly noted that Riyadh has not yet sent a single cent to the relief effort.
“It is very worrying that meaningful sums still remain unpaid. Fulfilling all pledges to date, and increasing them wherever possible, is vital to prevent a devastating famine,” Guterres addressing a UN ministerial meeting on Yemen last Thursday.
The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, which also pledged significant amounts of money, have not delivered either.
The UN has named and shamed Saudi Arabia and two other Gulf kingdoms for not fulfilling funding pledges to help Yemen, where the impact of the devastating Saudi-backed war has now led to one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world.
Saudi Arabia, which supports Yemen’s government against the Anssarallah movement (Houthis), hosted a high-level UN donor pledging conference in June to help Yemen deal with its humanitarian crisis, pledging $500 million of a total $3.4 billion in funds.
“More than 9 million people have been affected by deepening cuts to aid programs, including food, water and healthcare. Continuing to hold back money from the humanitarian response now will be a death sentence for many families,” Lowcock told the UN Security Council Tuesday.
“It is particularly reprehensible to promise money, which gives people hope that help may be on the way, and then to dash those hopes by simply failing to fulfil the promise,” Lowcock said.
Lowcock highlighted that UN-led efforts to finance the humanitarian response to the Yemen war in 2018 prevented famine in the country, but with the huge gap in the funds this year, he said, “the specter of famine has returned”.
The UN’s humanitarian office spokesperson, Jens Laerke, told VICE News that while other countries have supported Yemen and already paid their pledged amounts, the three Gulf countries have created an unforeseen obstacle in the 2020 humanitarian response.
“The funding gap this year is mostly attributable to gaps in support from the Gulf,” he said.