UN / YEMEN PLEDGING CONFERENCE WRAP

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01-Mar-2021 00:05:12
In a statement read by UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the outcome of today’s High-Level Pledging Event is disappointing adding that cutting aid to Yemenis is a “death sentence.” UNIFEED

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STORY: UN / YEMEN PLEDGING CONFERENCE WRAP
TRT: 5:12
SOURCE: UNIFEED
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ARABIC / ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 01 MARCH 2021, NEW YORK CITY

SHOTLIST:

FILE- NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, UN headquarters exterior

01 MARCH 2021, NEW YORK CITY

2. Multiple screens, virtual press conference
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, United Nations:
“Millions of Yemeni children, women and men desperately need aid to live. Cutting aid is a death sentence. The best that can be said about today is that it represents a down payment. I thank those who did pledge generously, and I ask others to consider again what they can do to help stave off the worst famine the world has seen in decades. The United Nations will continue to stand in solidarity with the starving people of Yemen.”
4. Multiple screens, participants in donor conference
5. SOUNDBITE (English) António Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations:
“This war is swallowing a whole generation of Yemenis. It has to stop. It’s been clear for years that there is no military solution in Yemen. The only path to peace is through an immediate, nationwide ceasefire and a set of confidence-building measures, followed by an inclusive, Yemeni-led political process under United Nations auspices, and supported by the international community.”
6. Multiple screens, participants in donor conference
7. SOUNDBITE (English) António Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations:
“Today, reducing aid is a death sentence for entire families. With the war raging, Yemen’s children are paying the price. And we know from studying the impact of conflict that those children will continue to pay a high price, long after the guns fall silent.”
8. Multiple screens, participants in donor conference
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Ignazio Cassis, Vice President and head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland:
"The brutality of the crisis and the pressing nature of the needs mean that we have to act now. So far, only a fraction of the humanitarian response plan for 2021 has been funded. It is our responsibility to fund this plan now and effectively."
10. Multiple screens, participants in donor conference
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Ann Linde, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sweden:
"Yemen is being pushed even closer to the worst famine the world has seen in decades. Five million Yemeni are just one step away from full-scale catastrophe. Hunger crises, like humanitarian crises in general, impact women in proportionality. Women eat least and last. When there is not enough food to go around, when food rations have been reduced, women are the first to go hungry."
12. Multiple screens, participants in donor conference
13. SOUNDBITE (English) David Gressly, Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, United Nations:
"Famine is creeping its way back into Yemen, and if we don't ramp up the aid operation quickly, it will swallow a whole generation; and peace is of little use if you're dead."
14. Multiple screens, participants in donor conference
15. SOUNDBITE (English) David Gressly, Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, United Nations:
"While aid money can't buy peace or solve the problems which create humanitarian need, it does save lives, and it does make the chances of solving those root causes much more likely. So if you're not feeding the people, you're feeding the war."
16. Multiple screens, participants in donor conference
17. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, Prime Minister, Yemen:
"Now supporting the stability of the Yemeni economy and supporting the stability of the currency must be an urgent priority. We call for creating a mechanism to disperse funds from donors for humanitarian work through the Yemeni Central Bank. The danger of dealing outside state institutions threatens their impediment and collapse, and this is a grave mistake that would lead to chaos and long-term damage. I call on our siblings and friends to support the Yemeni Government and the economy and to collaborate with it to reinforce the work of state institutions."
18. Multiple screens, participants in donor conference
19. SOUNDBITE (English) Antony Blinken, Secretary of State, United States of America:
“We call on the Houthis to cease their cross-border attacks and military offensives that prolong this war. We support the UN-led process and UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths in their efforts to establish a ceasefire, increase humanitarian access, and resume peace talks. And we call on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and cease attacks on civilians.”
20. Multiple screens, participants in donor conference
21. SOUNDBITE (English) David Beasley, Executive Director, World Food Programme:
"We got famine knocking on the door. We've got five million people in IPC (Integrated Phase Classification) level four. That's just horrific, five million people; 11 million at IPC level three. This is emergency crisis level and if we don't get the funds that we need, you're going to have massive famine throughout the country, literally hundreds of thousands of children will die; millions of people will die. But it's all avoidable."
22. Multiple screens, participants in donor conference
23. SOUNDBITE (English) Henrietta Fore, Executive Director, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF):
"Children in Yemen just want what every child wants, to survive and have a childhood, a future, a chance to achieve their dreams, a chance to grow up safe in an environment that they love."
24. Multiple screens, participants in donor conference

STORYLINE:

In a statement read by UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the outcome of today’s High-Level Pledging Event is disappointing adding that cutting aid to Yemenis is a “death sentence.”

During the conference some 1.7 billion USD was announced in pledges, which is less than what was received for the humanitarian response plan in 2020 and a billion dollars less than was pledged at the conference held in 2019.

Reading Guterres statement at a press conference today (01 Mar), Lowcock said, “Millions of Yemeni children, women and men desperately need aid to live. Cutting aid is a death sentence. The best that can be said about today is that it represents a down payment. I thank those who did pledge generously, and I ask others to consider again what they can do to help stave off the worst famine the world has seen in decades. The United Nations will continue to stand in solidarity with the starving people of Yemen.”

The UN humanitarian chief said he was disappointed with the outcome, adding that it is going to be impossible with such limited resources to prevent famine. He added that the UN would be reaching out again to donors for more support.

Lowcock said some donors, particularly European donors, did announce additional funds recognizing the scale of the crisis, the problem was that the biggest donors did not do that and rather announced signification reductions compared to their contributions in 2019.


Speaking at the virtual donor conference, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said it was impossible to overstate the severity of the suffering in Yemen.

He said more than 16 million people are expected to go hungry in Yemen this year, with some 50,000 Yemenis already starving to death in famine-like conditions. He added nearly half of all children under five in Yemen are set to suffer from acute malnutrition this year.

Guterres said, “This war is swallowing a whole generation of Yemenis. It has to stop. It’s been clear for years that there is no military solution in Yemen. The only path to peace is through an immediate, nationwide ceasefire and a set of confidence-building measures, followed by an inclusive, Yemeni-led political process under United Nations auspices, and supported by the international community.”

The Secretary-General said today’s conference was the fifth high-level pledging event to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and the bitter truth is that there would be a sixth event next year, unless the war ends. He called on the international community to create and seize every opportunity to save lives, stave off a mass famine, and forge a path to peace.


Guterres added, “Today, reducing aid is a death sentence for entire families. With the war raging, Yemen’s children are paying the price. And we know from studying the impact of conflict that those children will continue to pay a high price, long after the guns fall silent.”


Swiss Vice President Ignazio Cassis said the people of Yemen have suffered for years from armed conflict, food insecurity, infectious diseases, the effects of climate change, and high inflation, adding that COVID-19 has made their terrible living conditions even worse.

Cassis said some 80 per cent of the Yemeni population relies on humanitarian aid every day and 16 million, almost twice the population of Switzerland, are affected by food insecurity. He added, "The brutality of the crisis and the pressing nature of the needs mean that we have to act now. So far, only a fraction of the humanitarian response plan for 2021 has been funded. It is our responsibility to fund this plan now and effectively."

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde Yemen is the largest humanitarian emergency in the world, with 2020 witnessing a dwindling of humanitarian support and humanitarian programmes being scaled down.

She said, "Yemen is being pushed even closer to the worst famine the world has seen in decades. Five million Yemeni are just one step away from full-scale catastrophe. Hunger crises, like humanitarian crises in general, impact women in proportionality. Women eat least and last. When there is not enough food to go around, when food rations have been reduced, women are the first to go hungry."

Linde said Yemen is now the world's most dangerous place for children. She said Sweden would provide 31 million USD to the humanitarian response in Yemen as an initial allocation with more to follow in the remainder of the year.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen David Gressly said it was clear the needs in Yemen were enormous, adding that Yemenis were caught in a tightening loop of misery since the war started in 2015.

Speaking from the Yemeni Capital Sana’a where he arrived just two weeks ago, Gressly said the country was approaching the point of no return adding that if the wrong choices were made now, what comes after is the biggest famine in a generation.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator said the prospects for the country shifted when President Biden laid out the new US posture on Yemen, reaffirming the US’s focus on a diplomatic solution to the conflict and easing the humanitarian suffering of the Yemeni people. He said this created an opportunity that must be taken by all those with a stake in Yemen, adding that the Houthi offensive on Marib is a step in the wrong direction. He also noted that fuel ships need to be released and the blockade must be lifted.

Gressly said, as the international community works together rebuild the path to peace in Yemen, it must rebuild the country, rebuild public systems rebuild the economy and most urgently feed the children. He added, "Famine is creeping its way back into Yemen, and if we don't ramp up the aid operation quickly, it will swallow a whole generation; and peace is of little use if you're dead."

The Humanitarian Coordinator said if the world chose not to help today or not help enough it would have squandered this opportunity to avert famine and take a meaningful step towards peace. He added, "While aid money can't buy peace or solve the problems which create humanitarian need, it does save lives, and it does make the chances of solving those root causes much more likely. So if you're not feeding the people, you're feeding the war."

Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed said his country was suffering from terrible conditions and needs the world to stand with it and reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to facilitate humanitarian efforts.

Saeed said the Yemeni economy is in a crisis with 50 percent inflation. He added that without supporting the economy and currency stability, the humanitarian efforts will not be able to solve or end the current crisis. He said, "Now supporting the stability of the Yemeni economy and supporting the stability of the currency must be an urgent priority. We call for creating a mechanism to disperse funds from donors for humanitarian work through the Yemeni Central Bank. The danger of dealing outside state institutions threatens their impediment and collapse, and this is a grave mistake that would lead to chaos and long-term damage. I call on our siblings and friends to support the Yemeni Government and the economy and to collaborate with it to reinforce the work of state institutions."

The Yemeni Prime Minister said Marib, which is hosting some 2 million displaced persons, is under attack with ballistic missiles and other heavy weapons by Houthi militias. He stressed that since the signing of the Stockholm agreement, there has been an escalation in the war from one side by Houthi militias.

United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the humanitarian crisis taking place in Yemen is the largest and most urgent in the world. He announced nearly 191 million USD in additional humanitarian assistance from the United States, bringing the country’s Fiscal Year 2021 funding up to more than 350 million USD. He said, in total, the United States has provided more than 3.4 billion in aid to the Yemeni people since the crisis began six years ago.

Blinken said all parties across northern and southern Yemen must cease interference in aid operations and allow assistance to reach the innocent women, children, and men who have borne the brunt of this crisis. He called on all parties to allow the unhindered import and distribution of fuel, adding that fuel shortages like the one happening now only worsen the humanitarian situation.

Bliken said the Biden Administration listened to the concerns from the United Nations, from humanitarian groups, and members of Congress, and is committed to putting the well-being of the Yemeni people at the forefront of its policy while continuing to put pressure on the leaders of Ansarallah, also known as the Houthis.

He said, “We call on the Houthis to cease their cross-border attacks and military offensives that prolong this war. We support the UN-led process and UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths in their efforts to establish a ceasefire, increase humanitarian access, and resume peace talks. And we call on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and cease attacks on civilians.”

The Head of the World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, said famine in Yemen had been averted a few times already because of international support, but yet again the country is in a very bad crisis situation.

Beasley thanked the US for de-listing the Houthis from its terrorist list, which if not done could have driven the number of people facing starvation from 16 million to 24 million.

The WFP chief said, "We got famine knocking on the door. We've got five million people in IPC level four. That's just horrific, five million people; 11 million at IPC level three. This is emergency crisis level and if we don't get the funds that we need, you're going to have massive famine throughout the country, literally hundreds of thousands of children will die; millions of people will die. But it's all avoidable."
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said children in Yemen are facing ever-growing threat of malnutrition and preventable diseases, with almost every child in Yemen now in need of assistance.

Fore said UNICEF had just completed a polio vaccination campaign which reach five million children under the age of five. She added that UNICEF was working to keep healthcare centres and hospitals while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the Fund was now facing a funding cliff. She said UNICEF required some 577 million USD for its operations which is so far less than 20 per cent funded.

Fore stressed that without funding, all UNICEF programmes would be affected.

She added, "Children in Yemen just want what every child wants, to survive and have a childhood, a future, a chance to achieve their dreams, a chance to grow up safe in an environment that they love."
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