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United Nations Sounds Alarm Over Yemen, Says Cash-Strapped Aid Projects Face Closure Amid Covid-19

The five-year conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-aligned Houthi group has left most Yemenis malnourished and dependent on aid.

This frame grab of May 2020 shows a worker wearing protective gear and others arguing with a man in the neighborhood while collecting the dead body of medics, while assembling the lifeless body of a Kovid-19 victim. Later, in the Houthi-controlled town of Ibbi.

UN aid agencies said on Friday that three quarters of the programs coming back to Yemen would have to be shut down in the next few weeks without further funding, even as both cholera and the novel coronavirus spread.

The five-year conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-aligned Houthi group has left most Yemenis malnourished and dependent on aid.

International donors promised $ 1.35 billion to Yemen at a conference on 2 June – but fell short of the UN’s $ 2.4 billion target needed to save the world’s largest aid operations from severe cuts.

“More than 41 supported programs in Yemen will be closed in the coming weeks,” United Nations human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said in a UN briefing in Geneva.

“Now, more than ever, the country needs help from the outside world and is not really getting it,” he said.

Coleman said Yemen has recorded 564 cases of Kovid-19, but the figures go backward and may not cover all cases in areas controlled by Houthi officials in the north.

It reported 130 related deaths, although aid agencies said the level of testing was low.

Jens Lerke, spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said only 47% of the $ 1.35 billion promise was actually received.

Donors should “pay fast”, Lerke said. “The program will be closed, in fact many have already closed due to lack of funds,” he said.

The UN children’s agency UNICEF said water, sanitation and hygiene services for 4 million people would start shutting down in July if it did not receive $ 30 million by the end of this month.

About 137,000 cases of cholera and diarrhea have been reported this year, about a quarter of them children under the age of five, Marixi Mercado of the agency reported.

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