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  • Writer's pictureMoustafa Osman

High-Level Pledging Conference for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

"Earlier this month on the 2nd of June, a virtual high-level pledging summit was hosted in order to raise funding commitments for Yemen. Already in the midst of the worst humanitarian crisis of our time after five years of civil war, and now coping with coronavirus as well, the country is struggling to manage and the UN is highly concerned about the shortfall of funding raised to address the level of need.

Osman Consulting have been working in Yemen for many years and have been following developments closely. Our teams on the ground are carrying out rehabilitation of a water tank in Taizz governorate, as well as distributing food packets in Sanaa, Amanet Al Asima and Zi Mar.

In reaction to the conference, we are concerned that financial commitments alone are not good

enough as a response to the complicated crisis in Yemen. The level of humanitarian need in the country is just a symptom; the root causes are political and require political will to be meaningfully addressed. The major powers who showed up earlier this month to pledge money are however avoiding real responsibility; funding the humanitarian response will not absolve a lack of action in using their influence and power to push for political solutions, and especially will not balance out or make up for other flows of funding from the same parties that are fuelling the conflict and the warring parties.

Our other serious concern regarding Yemen is access, which is extremely hindered and compromised due to the ongoing conflict. Again, major powers would be capable of asserting their influence to see improvements in access and to expand the humanitarian space in the country, allowing much more effective oversight and facilitation of how money is being used on the ground.

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) puts the number of

organisations working in Yemen at 200, but the reality is most likely that many of them are working remotely, or are local organisations which will not qualify to receive UN funding. There are significant advantages to being on the ground, and the challenges to this possibility currently mean that effective humanitarian action is further disrupted, less secure and more costly, as well as meaning that organisations have much less control over how the funding is made use of and delivered. Permissions to work, freedom of movement for people and supplies within the country and to enter and leave are needed, and major powers must put their weight behind this effort.

During the statements made at the conference, I wondered what the international community are doing to ease access for humanitarian aid and aid workers. Commitments in this area are vital for saving the lives of Yemeni people; humanitarian aid agencies must be able to operate freely and safely. All the speakers and country representatives emphasised the importance of securing access for aid workers and humanitarian assistance to save lives and alleviate poverty, but yet very few actually made practical pledges. I think it’s time to walk the talk.

Money pledged to meet the most immediate needs in Yemen is not a commitment or a solution – and anyhow, the total funding pledged at the conference falls far short of the target which the UN says is needed. True commitment to protecting and improving the lives of the Yemeni people must come through more proactive, consistent and sincere efforts at a political solution. "

Moustafa Osman - Founder, Director of Osman Consulting.

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