International donors must act now to prevent a widespread famine in Yemen [EN/AR/FR]

News and Press Release
Originally published


(New York, Stockholm, Bern, 1 March 2021) - António Guterres, the United Nations SecretaryGeneral, today convenes a high-level pledging event, co-hosted by the Governments of Sweden and Switzerland, to call for immediate funding to prevent a large-scale famine in Yemen.

Two thirds of Yemenis need humanitarian assistance to survive. More than 16 million people will face hunger this year, and nearly 50,000 Yemenis are already starving to death in faminelike conditions. This year, nearly half of Yemen’s children under age 5 will suffer from acute malnutrition, including 400,000 who could die without urgent treatment.
Funding for the aid operation is running out fast. Today the UN is calling for US$3.85 billion this year to help 16 million Yemenis in desperate need.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “For most people, life in Yemen is now unbearable. Childhood in Yemen is a special kind of hell. This war is swallowing up a whole generation of Yemenis. We must end it now and start dealing with its enormous consequences immediately. This is not the moment to step back from Yemen.”

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, said: “We are at a crossroads with Yemen. We can choose the path to peace or let Yemenis slide into the world’s worst famine for decades. An adequately funded aid operation will prevent the spread of famine and create the conditions for lasting peace. If you’re not feeding the people, you’re feeding the war.”

H.E. Mr. Ignazio Cassis, Vice-President of Switzerland and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, said: “COVID-19 is not only a global health crisis; it also acts as a magnifying glass. The people of Yemen have suffered for years from armed conflict, famine, infectious diseases, the effects of climate change and high inflation. COVID-19 has made the dire living situation of these people even worse.”

H.E. Ms. Ann Linde, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said: “Yemen is the world’s most dangerous place for children. The only sustainable solution to the humanitarian crisis is an end to the fighting and a political solution to the conflict. The international community must step up on funding to the UN-coordinated humanitarian response and increase political support to the UN-led peace efforts.”

H.E. Mr. Per Olsson Fridh, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, added: “The people of Yemen are being starved by the continued conflict.
Without increased support to the humanitarian response, they will face the worst famine the world has seen in decades. Donors must now demonstrate their commitment to the Yemeni people and to our shared humanity.”

In 2020, funding for the aid operation in Yemen dropped dramatically. The UN and NGO partners received $1.9 billion, or around half of what they received the year before and half of what was needed. Aid had to be cut as a result, and people who need help are not getting it.
This year, aid agencies aim to help more than 16 million people. Given the alarming data on famine risk, malnutrition, COVID-19, cholera and other threats, donors are urged to make funds available without delay.

More than 100 Governments and other donors, international humanitarian organizations and aid officials will participate in today’s pledging event.

For additional information:

• FDFA Communications, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, +41 58 460 55 55,

• Robert Englund, Government of Sweden, +46-73 044 89 65,

• Zoe Paxton, United Nations OCHA New York, +1 917 297 1542,

• Jens Laerke, United Nations OCHA Geneva, +41 79 472 9750,

Note to Editors

Funding for UN-coordinated Humanitarian Response Plans in Yemen 2018: $3.1 billion required, $2.5 billion received (81%); 2019: $4.2 billion required, $3.6 billion received (87%); 2020: $3.4 billion required, $1.9 billion received (56%).

A virtual press conference is scheduled immediately after the closing at 13:10 ET/19:10 CET.
Questions can be put to Ambassador Manuel Bessler, Delegate for Humanitarian Aid,
Switzerland; H.E. Mr. Per Olsson Fridh, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, Sweden; and Mr. Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

Media can submit questions by email and WhatsApp before 11:00 ET/17:00 CET on 1 March.
Please send your name, news organization and brief question to Jens Laerke,,
WhatsApp +41 79 472 9750 (English and French), and Hayat Abu-Saleh,,
WhatsApp +31 634382414 (Arabic).

A Note to Correspondents with the final pledging result will be issued immediately after the closing of the event.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit