The European Commission is allocating €95 million in humanitarian support to address the most pressing needs of people in Yemen amid record highs of child malnutrition, an imminent threat of famine and renewed fighting. More than 2 million children as well as over 1 million pregnant women and mothers are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021, while escalating hostilities are forcing thousands of families to leave their households. The new funding was announced by the Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, at the high-level pledging event for Yemen on 1 March co-hosted by the United Nations, Sweden and Switzerland.
Commissioner Lenarčič said: "The EU does not forget the dire situation of people in Yemen who are once again on the brink of famine after bearing the brunt of the world's worst humanitarian crisis. New EU funding will be essential in maintaining life-saving aid for millions of people, exhausted after a disastrous year marked by fighting, COVID-19 and further economic collapse. Parties to the conflict need to facilitate the access of humanitarian organisations to those most in need and avoid further civilian suffering. Now more than ever it is crucial that International Humanitarian Law and unrestricted access to those in need are upheld."
In 2021, EU humanitarian aid will continue to provide food, nutrition and healthcare, financial assistance, water and sanitation, education and other lifesaving support to the conflict-displaced and those in severe need.
Since the beginning of the conflict in 2015, the European Union has allocated €981 million in various forms of financial assistance to respond to the crisis in Yemen, including €648 million in humanitarian aid.
Entering the seventh year of conflict, Yemen is confronted with severe humanitarian needs on an unprecedented scale, a situation further worsened by the fragile socio-economic situation and the coronavirus pandemic.
Conflict across Yemen continues to endanger civilians, trigger displacement and damage infrastructure such as hospitals and schools. Imports of food, fuel and medicines are restricted, leading to shortages and high prices while humanitarian aid continues to face serious impediments.
The continued impact of the pandemic has stretched health services to the limit and restricted access to markets. In 2020, locusts and floods affected local food production in several areas, further exacerbating the difficult humanitarian situation and pushing the most vulnerable people into an alarming famine risk.
According to the Humanitarian Needs Overview for 2021, around 20.7 million people out of a total of 30.5 million in Yemen are in need of humanitarian assistance, with 12.1 million being in acute need. Pockets of famine-like conditions have been identified for the first time in two years, with the number of people exposed to starvation at risk of tripling from the current 16,500 to 47,000 between January and June 2021.
Given the alarming food insecurity rates in 2020, the EU released over €50 million for food assistance, including cash transfers and nutrition support activities. This assisted millions of Yemenis acutely food insecure and supported the treatment of severely malnourished children.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the EU's humanitarian partner organisations have put in place infection, prevention and control measures to avoid propagation. This includes increased awareness and the piloting of a community shielding approach to protect those most vulnerable to severe infection among displaced populations.