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In Yemen, funding cuts are forcing us to triage the vulnerable


Millions of vulnerable Yemenis are unlikely to receive any aid at all this year.

As a seasoned humanitarian, I have lived through some of the world’s worst conflicts and disasters. But I have seldom witnessed such a dire situation as Yemen, true two-thirds of the population needs help. The recent pledging conference for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen was a sobering reminder of how far we are from adequately supporting the Yemeni people, brought to their knees by eight years of conflict. It also sends a signal that some lives are less valuable than others.

Baheyah Abdu comes to mind. The 40-year-old mother of 10 has been displaced for the full eight years of this crisis, fighting for basic services in a makeshift camp in the southern city of Taiz. With prices skyrocketing, her husband’s sub-$1 daily wage can now only buy bread and sometimes tomatoes for their family.

At the end of last year, a funding shortfall cut off what little aid they received, forcing her to stop sending her children to school and to pay for her medical care. Baheyah is now left to her own devices. Like millions of other Yemenis, she is unlikely to receive aid this year.

The numbers speak for themselves: only a quarter of the $4.3 billion needed for humanitarian aid this year has been promised and less than 5 percent has actually been provided. This means aid agencies are forced to triage the vulnerable in an emergency ward of desperation. This is unacceptable and we must address the countries responsible for this deadly funding gap.

Many of the countries directly or indirectly involved in this war through bombing, fighting or arms sales have promised less money than before – and some none at all: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iran. We are also disappointed that those who have voluntarily supplied arms in this terrible war – the United States, the United Kingdom and other European countries – have not given more. In the years when the conflict for which they provided the tools was causing massive casualties and tearing the social fabric of the country, relatively little money was available. As the world’s interest in Yemen has waned, key figures in the war that caused the suffering appear to be cutting back on funding and seem to be turning their backs.

This neglect comes at a crucial time for Yemen, as the warring factions are in the midst of ceasefire negotiations. World powers are therefore sending the totally wrong message at a critical time when we could and should all give Yemen the final push towards an end to the conflict and long-term stability.

We’re not going to sit down and let them get away with this unnoticed.

Nations that were prepared to provide billions to wage war are now committing Yemen’s most vulnerable to another year of suffering, another year without enough food on their plates, without the support they need to live with dignity. to lead. This is not a finite resource problem; it is one of political will.

My colleagues from the Norwegian Refugee Council in Yemen will continue to reach out to those in need and document the impact of the cuts on families terrified at the prospect of not getting help. We will make it clear that budget cuts are now forcing us to make impossible decisions about which vulnerable children to help and which to cross off our list.

Eight years of this man-made disaster should have led us to a turning point of hope. Although the fragile ceasefire has not yet been extended, the relative calm across the country led us all to believe that the end of this nightmare was near. Now we don’t know if the most vulnerable will survive starvation as funds begin to dry up.

Baheyah hopes her voice will be heard by regional and world leaders who have seemingly left Yemen. We want to let her and millions of her fellow Yemenis know that we will not abandon them.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial view of Al Jazeera.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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