Opening remarks by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations on the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen 2020.
“(…) We are in a race against time.
Reports indicate that in Aden, mortality rates from Covid-19 are among the highest in the world.
That is just one sign of what lies ahead, if we do not act now.
Just half of Yemen’s health facilities are operational.
There are shortages of testing devices, oxygen, ambulances and basic protective equipment.
Many healthcare workers are among those who have contracted the virus. Even hospitals that are operational and equipped may not have a reliable electricity supply.
Public health measures are particularly challenging in a country where trust in the authorities is weak, and fifty percent of the population don’t have access to clean water to wash their hands.
Tackling Covid-19 on top of the existing humanitarian emergency requires urgent action. The pandemic is making it even more difficult and dangerous for humanitarian workers to reach Yemenis with lifesaving aid.
We must preserve the major humanitarian aid operation that is already underway – the world’s largest – while developing new public health programmes to fight the virus and strengthen healthcare systems.
We have already made a start, supporting rapid response teams across the country, procuring essential supplies, and working with frontline health workers and communities to get information out to millions of people. But we need to do much more.
This requires increased funding.
So far this year, that has not been forthcoming.
We have never had so little money for aid operations in Yemen this late in the year. Aid agencies estimate they will need up to $2.41 billion to cover essential aid from June until December, including programmes to counter Covid-19.
Unless we secure significant funding, more than 30 out of 41 major United Nations programmes in Yemen will close in the next few weeks.
I thank those donors who pledged funding ahead of today’s event, and I urge all of you to pledge generously today – and to transfer pledged resources quickly.
There is no time to lose.
Today’s pledges will help our United Nations humanitarian agencies and their partners on the ground to continue providing a lifeline to millions of Yemenis (…)” – António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations [Excerpt].