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Press Release

With 4.2 billion needed, Yemen is now the largest humanitarian operation in history

The money pledged today may save lives, but humanitarian assistance alone will not solve the crisis in Yemen.

As major donors convene in Geneva to pledge funds for the world’s largest humanitarian response in history, the IRC calls on all governments to increase funding to meet the growing humanitarian needs of a desperate Yemeni population. With more than 24 million people, nearly 80 percent of the entire population, in need of humanitarian assistance, conditions are worsening at an almost unprecedented rate. However, the unimaginable suffering of the Yemeni people demands more than donor funding. It demands international pressure to remove the political and bureaucratic barriers that keep aid out of the hands of starving Yemenis. It demands a sustained focus on protecting women and girls, who are paying the highest price in this four-year old conflict. And, most of all, it demands an unwavering diplomatic commitment to a nationwide ceasefire and an end to this war.

David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee said, “The humanitarian funding received today is imperative, and today’s pledges must be quickly translated into an expansion of life-saving services, and in particular, programming to address and prevent violence facing women and girls. Since the war began incidents of gender-based violence (GBV) have increased by over 63 percent, yet so far in 2019, only 3.3% of humanitarian funding in Yemen has gone towards protection programming.

However, we must recognize that humanitarian aid alone will not end this man-made crisis. Only a political settlement that ends the fighting can stop the suffering of the Yemeni people. With 10 million people on the brink of starvation, humanitarian agencies like the IRC are doing everything possible to mitigate hunger, avert famine and protect vulnerable populations. But we face constant obstacles to our operations including restrictions on critical imports, closure of vital sea and air ports, and restrictions on the movement of staff and humanitarian supplies into and around the country.

Funding pledged today must come with a focused diplomatic effort to end the political and bureaucratic obstacles to our life-saving work. All Yemen’s ports, including Sana’a airport must fully function, and humanitarian assistance must be allowed to flow freely to the millions of Yemenis who rely on it for survival. Otherwise, we will continue to struggle to reach those most in need.”

The IRC has been working in Yemen since 2012 and rapidly scaled our programming in 2015  to address greater humanitarian need caused by the conflict. While the ongoing conflict and restrictions of air and sea ports create challenges to our operations, the IRC has maintained access to affected populations in and continues to provide life-saving healthcare, economic empowerment, women’s protection and empowerment, and education programming.

To learn more about the IRC’s work in Yemen, click here.

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.