UNITED NATIONS, June 2 (Xinhua) -- UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock on Tuesday asked donors to pledge generously so that "a tragedy of historic proportions" could be avoided in Yemen.
"Yemen is now on the precipice, right on the cliff edge, below which lies a tragedy of historic proportions," Lowcock told an online pledge conference for Yemen, co-sponsored by the United Nations (UN) and Saudi Arabia.
He asked donors for generous pledges consistent with their commitments last year, as well as for prompt payment and flexible financing to allow aid agencies to focus on where their needs are the greatest.
"I want in particular to warn that cutting funding to one part of the country or another because you are concerned about the behavior of those in control is tantamount to the collective punishment of the innocent and the vulnerable, people who have no say on who is in charge in the places they live," said Lowcock.
"Pledges will not save lives unless they are paid. And so far, most of the pledges made remain unpaid," he added.
Of the 41 major UN-supported programs in Yemen, more than 30 will close in the next few weeks unless additional funds are secured, he said. "COVID-19 rapid response teams are funded only until the end of June. Next month, we could start winding down treatment for severely malnourished children. Support for cholera facilities will also start to reduce," he said.
The situation in Yemen is catastrophic, said Lowcock, adding that COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the country and the health system is in a state of collapse.
COVID-19 comes on top of the many problems already facing Yemen, such as economic collapse, a destroyed infrastructure, hunger, disease and displacement, he noted.
"Yemenis themselves say things are worse today than at any time in their recent history. And yet, so far this year, the world has offered less help than it did last year. Never have we had so little money for humanitarian action in Yemen this late in the year," he said. Enditem