Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, remarks at High-Level Pledging Event for Yemen, 16 March 2022


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I want to echo the warm words of welcome from my co-hosts and from my SecretaryGeneral.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of today’s event.
We know, we all know, ultimately the only way to stop the suffering in Yemen is peace. While that remains elusive, we must together address the humanitarian needs of its people.

As you heard from Secretary-General Guterres just now, these needs have, once again, reached alarming heights.

This year, almost three quarters of the population of Yemen will need and depend on humanitarian assistance and protection to get by, to survive. That is an increase of 13 per cent in a year, of what was already a frightening figure.

This includes 19 million people who will go hungry unless they receive assistance, and almost 12 million women and girls who will continue to face everyday threats to their safety and well-being.

I worked on Yemen for many years – and it has been my privilege to do so – and therefore I know that these figures, while astonishing, are not that new. Nor is the ambitious response to the crisis, which remains one of the largest aid operations in the world. And we have with us here today David Gressly, our leader in the field. Thank you, David.

Since 2015, more than US$14 billion has been provided to support the UN-led humanitarian response in Yemen – an equally astonishing figure – and thanks to our incredibly generous donors, two of which, of course, are our co-hosts today. Your support has saved millions of lives, and we know this because when funding has been generous, food insecurity has gone down and disease outbreaks have become less deadly.

And when donor support has slowed equally, then we have seen humanitarian needs rapidly grow. And this is, sadly, where we are now. Funding has dried up, leaving aid agencies no alternative but to slash programmes that millions of people rely on to survive.

Many fear – and we already heard these comments today – that Yemen will fall off the radar as other crises occupy the headlines and aid budgets.

We must not let that happen, and this is also why we are here today in Geneva.

I do not believe that global solidarity is a finite commodity, or that an escalation in suffering in one part of the world means there is less will to help elsewhere.

On the contrary, we have recently seen what the world can achieve when it comes together, and the extraordinary response from individuals and civil society across all continents to at least one recent crisis has been a salutary reminder of the generosity of families and individuals.

I am calling here on you to marshal that spirit, that welcome, that generosity for the people of Yemen. This year’s response needs $4.27 billion to help 17.3 million people across the country.

At the same time, after seven years of these enormous appeals, we know that business as usual is not enough.

We need to move towards more sustainable assistance, including long-term action to tackle the underlying drivers of this crisis, particularly the country’s collapsing economy – an aspect which David and his team are particularly focusing, to their great credit, and in consultation and collaboration with the Government of Yemen and other authorities.

We also need to continue to strengthen the aid operation to make it as effective and accountable as possible. The inter-agency humanitarian evaluation – a big process – that will be released in the coming weeks will be an essential tool in furthering these efforts.

We have already made improvements. This year’s appeal is based on three new nationwide needs assessments, giving us the most rigorous evidence base we have ever had in a place, as we all know, where data can be very hard to collect.

Today, let us show through the pledges we make that we have not forgotten the people of Yemen.

And before I close, I also want to thank Manuel Bessler, Carl Skau and Michael Koehler, who went to Yemen before this event to help us raise consciousness, and we are very grateful to those Governments and, of course, we are looking very much to the remarks of the UNHCR Special Envoy.

Thank you.


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