Oxfam welcomes the generous pledges of US $2 billion (AU $2.6 billion) of aid to deal with the crisis in Yemen, including an additional AU $3 million from the Australian Government, made overnight in Geneva.
The money will provide 70 per cent of the US $2.96 billion (AU $3.85 billion) for which the UN has appealed, which aims to help 13.1 million people out of 22.2 million in need of humanitarian assistance.
The international humanitarian agency pointed out that while the immediate lifesaving aid was crucial, it needed to be backed up with robust diplomatic efforts to end the three-year-old war and put the country on the path to peace.
Shane Stevenson, Oxfam’s Country Director in Yemen, said: “The millions of dollars pledged overnight will provide a crucial short-term lifeline to prevent Yemenis from slipping from crisis into catastrophe. Lives will be saved if the ports are fully opened, goods are allowed to flow through the country and aid reaches areas where it is desperately needed.
“Welcome as these pledges are, it is only peace that will bring long-term relief to Yemen. Those countries offering generous support need to go further, and redouble diplomatic efforts to end the fighting that is the main cause of so much misery for the Yemeni people.”
Yemeni civil society activist, Safa Murad Rafiq, said: “Thousands of civil servants have still not been paid in over a year, delivering aid remains a challenge, reconstruction needs keep increasing, and an entire generation is being denied education. The international community must come up with a promise of massive support to stabilise and rebuild the country.
“Without it, Yemenis will suffer from increased poverty, even fewer children will attend school, and many more will die from hunger and diseases.”
Oxfam Australia’s Head of Public Policy and Advocacy Rachel Ball said the situation in Yemen was critical and continued support was needed from governments to support the millions of people in need of water and food.
“Three years on from the eruption of this conflict, Yemen is teetering on the brink of famine,” Ms Ball said. “Families are facing a daily struggle just to get hold of the bare essentials like food and water.
“The additional AU $3 million of humanitarian funding from the Australian Government is a welcome start to 2018, and takes its total contribution to AU $23 million in the past year.
“Oxfam calls on the Australian Government to continue to closely monitor the crisis, be prepared to commit additional funding and continue to use diplomatic channels to push for peace.”
Oxfam is working across Yemen, trucking water and providing cash for people to buy food. The organisation has helped more than 2.8 million people since July 2015. But the closure of sea and air ports has hampered efforts to get food, water, fuel and medicines to all those who need them.
For interviews with Oxfam staff in Yemen and other locations, or more information, please contact Renee Thompson on 0418 873 782 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Donations to support Oxfam’s emergency responses in Yemen and around the world can be made online at oxfam.org.au/yemen or by calling 1800 034 034.
Footage, photos and quotes from Yemenis Oxfam has spoken to are available: https://oxfam.app.box.com/v/Yemen3YearMoment/folder/47523372201