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Aid cuts by Trump and some US allies are costing lives in Yemen

September 15, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

In March, the Trump administration and the US' key regional allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, slashed their funding to the United Nations' appeal for Yemen. The funding cuts mean reduced healthcare services for Yemeni civilians, with some forced to close.

In March, the Trump administration and the US' key regional allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, slashed their funding to the United Nations' appeal for Yemen.

A spokesperson for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) told CNN that the country would resume all operations in the Houthi-controlled north "when we are confident that our partners can deliver aid without undue Houthi interference and account for US assistance. "

The spokesperson pointed to unmet commitments from "other donors" as the reason for the funding shortfall among UN agencies in Yemen, saying "the United States encourages all donors, including those in the Gulf region, to contribute additional funding, to fulfill their 2020 pledges in a timely manner, and for all assistance to be provided according to humanitarian principles. "

A spokesperson for Saudi Arabia's King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center told CNN the country had been ready to hand over the rest of the money in July but was now waiting to finalize agreements with the agencies "to ensure that the pledged amount is not diverted to other purposes outside of fulfilling the humanitarian needs. " Like the US, it cited concerns of appropriation of aid by the Houthi rebels.

In the UAE's case, it hasn't given anything to the UN appeal for Yemen this year so far, UN data shows.

All three countries have donated tens of millions of dollars and other aid to Yemen through other channels outside of the appeal.

The UN's humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told CNN on Monday that while the Houthis' obstruction is an issue, the funding crisis is having a far greater impact on the lives of Yemenis.

And I do think it's particularly reprehensible for countries which were contributing last year, said they were contributing again this year and then not pay, because the effect of that is to give people the hope that maybe the help is coming and then when you don't pay, you dash their hopes," he told CNN's Becky Anderson on Connect the World.

Multiple sources from UN humanitarian response teams told CNN they hoped countries would pledge more funds at the assembly to fill the deficit left by the three countries' cuts this year.

Tensions have been high since the World Food Program, along with the US and its allies, accused the Houthis of stealing food aid from other parts of Yemen.

As a result of funding cuts, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) -- which coordinates the international response in the country -- told CNN that UN agencies have already been forced to either close or reduce more than 75% if its programs this year alone, affecting more than 8 million people.

In a confidential internal UN briefing document obtained by CNN, the full, devastating impact of that drawback is revealed in a rainbow of colors marking where aid programs have been closed and which are at imminent threat of shutdown if more funding isn't received.

The WFP estimates that more than 66% of people in Yemen are considered "food insecure," and that more than 14 million of them could die if their food assistance stops.

WFP usually delivers food supplies -- like flour, pulses, sugar and salt -- to 13 million people a month in the country.

UNICEF has warned that more than 2 million children under the age of five are suffering from malnutrition, and that with reduced funding for specialist medical units, 260,000 of these children could be forced to go without essential nutritional treatment.

CNN spent weeks reaching out to the Health Ministry in Sanaa, local councils, aid organizations and doctors on the ground in northern Yemen for recent figures to show how many deaths here may have been caused by food shortages, or malnutrition.

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