Students of Yemeni primary and secondary schools shout slogans during a rally demanding the United Nations take measures on warring sides to pay teachers' salaries and resume teaching at schools, outside a UN office in Sanaa, Yemen, on Feb. 13, 2018. (Xinhua/Mohammed Mohammed)
by William M. Reilly
UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have agreed with the United Nations on the technical aspects of transferring one billion U.S. dollars in aid for war-wracked Yemen, the chief UN spokesman said on Tuesday.
Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman, said 930 million U.S. dollars of the funds for the United Nations to use solely for humanitarian aid in support of its 2018 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (YHRP), "without regard for other considerations. An additional 70 million U.S. dollars will be provided by the two countries to support port rehabilitation and infrastructure in Yemen."
The funds are to be received by March 31, Dujarric said, referring to a statement by Undersecretary-General Mark Lowcock, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator. They represent almost one third of the 2.96 billion dollars required under the YHRP.
Once converted, the pledge will reduce hunger, contain disease, maintain essential health, water and education services and relieve the suffering of millions of Yemenis across the country, the relief coordinator said in a statement on Monday.
Lowcock said Saudi Arabia and the UAE also pledged to raise an additional 500 million dollars from other donors in the region.
"If fully funded, the United Nations and its partners will provide, among other assistance, emergency food to more than 8.5 million Yemenis, nutritional services to 5.6 million children, pregnant women and mothers, and safe water to 5.4 million people," the relief coordinator said.
"The UN and its partners will also rehabilitate more than 1,400 schools and 650 health facilities destroyed by the ongoing conflict," he said.
Lowcock thanked Saudi Arabia and the UAE for "this generous and much needed infusion of funds." "I hope this generosity will encourage more donors to contribute to the YHRP, including ahead of the international pledging conference on Yemen to be held in Geneva on April 3," he said.
"The humanitarian situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate because of ongoing conflict, collapsing basic services and economic decline," he said. "A record 22.2 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance -- 3.4 million more than last year."
The emergency relief coordinator reiterated the frequent call by humanitarian workers for "rapid, safe and unfettered humanitarian access to Yemen."
Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition force defending the internationally recognized Yemeni government against Houthi rebels allegedly supported by Iran.