Ahead of the high-level meeting on Yemen at the United Nations General Assembly this Wednesday, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is calling on world leaders to leverage their position to push for a ceasefire and recognise the devastating human cost of insufficient funding of Yemen’s humanitarian response plan. With this year’s response plan just over 50% funded but nearly 70% of Yemen’s population reliant on aid, millions of lives are at stake.

Tamuna Sabadze, IRC Yemen Country Director at the International Rescue Committee said:

“The economic crisis and a lack of basic services have already triggered recent demonstrations and insecurity in southern Yemen. Yemenis cannot afford to see even more lifesaving services halted because of a lack of funding. Ultimately, an end to attacks on civilians, a ceasefire and a political process to achieve sustainable peace are the topmost needs, however as long as the crisis continues, the unhindered and uninterrupted humanitarian response remains a lifeline for two in every three Yemenis. 

“The cost of underfunding this year is clear. 15 million Yemenis do not have access to safe water and sanitation and require assistance, but the water, sanitation and hygiene sector is funded at less than 10%. Clean water is even more important today to stop outbreaks of COVID-19 and other diseases such as cholera which wreaked havoc on Yemen’s already fragile health system. 

“The health sector is less than 14% funded - at a time when 20 million Yemenis lack access to health services and the pandemic is driving new needs. Half of children under 5 suffer from acute malnutrition. Nearly 400,000 are suffering from severe acute malnutrition and are at risk of death without treatment. Even food aid is at risk and may be reduced due to insufficient funding as the country faces the risk of famine as the nutrition sector lacks 60% of the funds it requires to meet these needs this year.

“Over 7 million Yemenis need shelter and basic items, but less than 800,000 have received this critical support with the sector just funded at 17%. The education sector has only one-third of the funds it needs, with 8 million Yemeni children in need of education assistance.

“Donors must respond to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis by committing to fully fund the response when they convene on Wednesday. IRC urges donors to make additional pledges to fund humanitarian programs enabling frontline actors on the ground to continue delivering aid and services to those in need."

The IRC has been working in Yemen since 2012 and rapidly scaled our programming in 2015 to address greater humanitarian needs caused by the conflict. While the ongoing conflict creates challenges for our operations, the IRC has maintained access to affected populations and continues to provide life-saving services, including treatment for malnutrition, healthcare, water and sanitation, cash assistance as well as case management services and education programming.