Oxfam Australia welcomed today’s announcement by the Australian Government of $10 million in funds to deliver life-saving assistance to people in poverty facing starvation and conflict in Yemen.
The announcement by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is the first direct funding that Australia has provided to the Yemen crisis since the escalation of conflict in March 2015.
As a result of the two-year war, thousands of people have been killed, more than three million have been forced from their homes and about 18.8 million people – 70 per cent of the population – are in need of humanitarian assistance.
The fighting has pushed the Middle Eastern country to the brink of famine, with nearly seven million people facing starvation.
Oxfam Australia Humanitarian Manager Meg Quartermaine said the $10 million funding was a welcome sign of Australia’s growing recognition of the immense needs in Yemen.
“Yemen’s people, living in the Middle East’s poorest country, are now facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” she said. “Today’s funding announcement is a much-needed boost to an emergency response that has been critically under-funded.”
Ms Quartermaine said while today’s funding announcement was a welcome start, Australia needed to continue to closely monitor needs in Yemen and be prepared to commit additional funding this year.
New analysis completed by Oxfam has calculated Australia’s fair share of the total funding needs in 2017 at $37 million (US$28 million) based on the size of the Australian economy.
“The humanitarian situation in Yemen continues to worsen. The risk of famine is looming across the country and could become a reality without a massive international effort to fully fund the aid effort,” Ms Quartermaine said.
The United Nations hopes to raise US$2.1 billion to deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance to Yemen this year, but the appeal – intended to provide vital help to 12 million people – is only 16 per cent funded.
Ms Quartermaine said while aid was desperately needed to save lives now, many more people would die without an end to the de facto blockade of Yemen and pressure on all sides to end the conflict.
“Australia should continue to use all diplomatic channels at its disposal to push the parties to the conflict to agree on an immediate and permanent ceasefire, and to enable the safe and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance,” she said.
Oxfam has been operating in Yemen for more than 30 years. Since the escalation of the conflict in 2015, Oxfam has reached more than one million people with clean water, food vouchers, cash assistance and hygiene kits in the north and south of the country.
Donations to support Oxfam’s emergency responses in Yemen can be made at www.oxfam.org.au/donate or by calling 1800 034 034.
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