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Ministers Coveney and Cannon announce funding to Yemen humanitarian crisi

Budget/funding, Emergencies, Hunger, Health, News/feature, Yemen, 2017


Ministers Coveney and Cannon announce funding for response to humanitarian crisis in Yemen


- €750k increase in funding to UN Yemen Humanitarian Fund

- Ireland is providing €4.8m in assistance in humanitarian response to Yemen this year


Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D. and Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Mr. Ciarán Cannon, T.D., today called for an increased humanitarian response to the deteriorating situation in Yemen, as well as stronger efforts to reach a negotiated resolution to the conflict.


The Ministers announced additional Irish funding of €750,000 to the UN Yemen Humanitarian Fund.  This brings Ireland’s total direct humanitarian support to Yemen to over €4.8 million this year, and almost €11.3m since the conflict began.  In addition, Ireland is the fifth largest donor to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, which has allocated USD $25.6m to Yemen so far this year.


Minister Coveney said:

“The catastrophe in Yemen is entirely man-made, brought about by the ongoing brutal conflict.  In addition to the loss of life, infrastructure has been destroyed, cutting off much of the population from food and other supplies. Over 20 million people - 75% of the total population- are severely affected, with millions on the brink of famine, while dealing with the largest cholera outbreak in modern history.


More must be done, as the global community, at EU level, and through the UN.  Otherwise, I am deeply concerned that what is already the world’s largest humanitarian crisis will worsen. As part of Ireland’s response, I have decided to allocate an additional €750,000 to support urgent life-saving assistance for Yemenis facing starvation and disease.   


Humanitarian aid alone will not solve this crisis. The war has now entered its third year and the political process has stalled. Ireland fully supports the efforts of UN Special Envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and his team, who are working to build a peace agreement. I call on all parties in Yemen to return to the negotiating table. 


In addition, Ireland is also working through the UN system to address the human rights situation in Yemen.”


Minister of State Cannon added:

The recent escalation in hostilities, which has closed Yemen’s borders, has impeded the delivery of humanitarian aid. Without access to vital food, fuel and medicines, Yemenis will not survive.


All air, sea and land borders must remain open to humanitarian access.  The delivery of life-saving assistance and vital imports, including medicines, is urgently needed if diseases such as cholera are to be addressed and lives saved.”


At the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017, Ireland joined a small core group of countries that drove forward the adoption of a Resolution on Yemen. This Resolution establishes a group of international experts, who will examine the facts in relation to violations of human rights and humanitarian law on the ground. This group will report back to the Human Rights Council, as an important step towards accountability in Yemen.



Press Office

24 November 2017


Notes for the editor:

  • Yemen is the world's largest humanitarian crisis in absolute numbers of people in need. 20.7 million (75% of the total population) people are severely affected by the crisis and require some form of humanitarian assistance due to the brutal armed conflict, severe food insecurity, and the world's largest ever single-year cholera outbreak.


  • An unprecedented cholera outbreak has added to severity of the crisis, affecting almost the entire country. To date there have been over 948,657suspected cholera cases and 2,216 deaths.


  • The ongoing conflict is hampering efforts of the UN and international humanitarian organisations to bring urgently needed medical supplies and food to those most in need.  Less than half of the existing health facilities remain in operation. Hospitals and health centres are running out of medicines, fuel and supplies. Less than one third of acutely needed medicines and medical supplies are now entering Yemen, with the UN estimating that on average 20 people die every day from treatable wounds and curable illnesses.


  • On the 6th November, following a missile attack on Riyadh, the Saudi-led coalition closed Yemen’s sea, air and land borders, disrupting the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Yemen’s main commercial airport had already been closed for a period of more than one year, preventing Yemenis from travelling out of the country for critical health treatment. Now, even UN flights and boats have been stopped. As a result of the blockade, humanitarian supplies began running dangerously low. As of the 23rd November, the Saudi-led coalition announced an easing of the blockade, reopening Aden air and seaport; Al Hudaydah port for urgent humanitarian and relief items; and Sana'a airport to UN aircraft. However, humanitarian needs are expected to continue.


  • In 2017, the UN appealed for $2.1 billion to meet the needs of 12 million people affected by conflict in Yemen. In August 2017, the financial requirements were revised upwards to US$ 2.3 billion following the inclusion of the integrated cholera response plan. It is currently 56.9% percent funded.


  • On the 25th April 2017, the United Nations and the Governments of Sweden and Switzerland convened a one day high-level pledging event for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen in order to galvanize financial and political support in response to the rapidly deteriorating situation and the threat of famine.  As a result of the conference, donors pledged to provide $1.1 billion to the crisis in 2017.


  • Former Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Mr Joe McHugh, T.D. represented Ireland at the high-level event and committed Ireland to providing at least €4 million in humanitarian funding for 2017 to the crisis in Yemen. This pledge has been exceeded in 2017. 


  • In fulfilment of Ireland’s pledge made at the April 2017 conference, funding of €4 million was disbursed to the UN’s Yemen Humanitarian Pooled Fund (YHPF). Ireland has also contributed €80,000 to the International Rescue Committee for an Emergency Women’s Protection and Empowerment programme in Yemen. This most recent additional allocation of €750,000 to the UN Yemen Humanitarian Pooled Fund, bring Ireland’s total humanitarian assistance to Yemen in 2017 to over €4.8 million.


  • Since 2012, Ireland has provided almost €11.3 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen, which has been significantly scaled since 2015 in response to the escalating crisis. In 2016 Ireland provided €4.1 million.


  • Ireland also contributes to global funds, including UN CERF, which makes emergency funding readily available for UN agencies, for both rapid onset and underfunded crises; and to the Start Fund, a humanitarian pooled fund for NGOs which is supported by a number of donors. The CERF is an important funding mechanism for the Yemen crisis, allocating $84.2 million for people most affected by the conflict since 2015, including $25.6 million in in 2017. The START fund allocated funding in 2015 to NGO partners working on the ground in Yemen, for urgent health and nutrition activities. Ireland also supports Yemen through annual contributions made to the EU budget.  EU humanitarian support to Yemen since the start of the conflict is €171.7 million.
  • Ireland fully supports the efforts of UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and his team, who are working towards a peace agreement. Ireland will continue to take every appropriate opportunity to press for a negotiated settlement, respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, and improved humanitarian access.

  • At the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017, Ireland was part of a small core group of countries that drove forward the adoption of a Resolution on Yemen. This Resolution established a group of international experts to examine allegations of human rights during the conflict, and to report back to the UN Human Rights Council next year. This investigation is an important step towards accountability in Yemen, and will help establish the facts in relation to violations of human rights and humanitarian law on the ground.