In light of the catastrophic situation in Yemen, where civil war has been raging for years, the Council of Ministers decided today, Wednesday, at the request of Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, to provide 3 million euros from the Foreign Disaster Fund to the International Committee of the Red Cross working on the ground.
"Yemen is currently going through one of the most severe humanitarian crises worldwide. 80 per cent of the population needs humanitarian protection and assistance. By providing 3 million euros from the Foreign Disaster Fund, Austria is fulfilling its humanitarian duty and helping to alleviate the great need by providing aid on the ground" said Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
Since the beginning of the war, about 250,000 people have died from the war and its consequences such as malnutrition and disease. 3.6 million internally displaced people are particularly threatened by the continued fighting. In 2017, the country suffered the world's worst cholera epidemic and now coronavirus is adding to the precarious humanitarian situation.
"The war in Yemen is overshadowed by developments in Syria, and the fate of the suffering population is in danger of being forgotten. The situation of young children is particularly distressing. More than two million children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition. This is the highest figure ever recorded in Yemen. Over one million pregnant and breastfeeding women have too little to eat. Without help, these children are threatened with lifelong physical and mental impairments. Aid from Austria is vital for survival" says Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler.
According to the World Food Programme, more than 13 of the approximately 30 million people in Yemen suffer from acute hunger, many of them children. 18 million have no or only an inadequate supply of drinking water. Regular natural disasters and widespread diseases such as cholera or dengue fever further aggravate the humanitarian emergency.
"The situation has been further exacerbated by the spread of COVID-19. There is a lack of medical equipment and functioning health infrastructure. Austrian support for the International Committee of the Red Cross, which continues to work in Yemen under the most difficult conditions, is therefore extremely important" said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg about the precarious situation in the face of the pandemic, to which the population is largely defenceless. In addition, there is hardly any reliable data about the real extent of the pandemic.
Alongside its humanitarian aid, Austria continues to support the peace process and the continuation of dialogue in conflict-ravaged Yemen. As recently as January, Foreign Minister Schallenberg assured Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak of Austria's full support in the UN-led peace process.