Shaheen Joins Bipartisan Letter to Stem UN Funding Shortfalls for Yemen Humanitarian Relief

May 04, 2021

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined a bipartisan letter with Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Todd Young (R-IN) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) urging the Biden administration to encourage other countries to contribute to the United Nations’ plan for Yemen humanitarian relief. In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Senators thanked the administration for the recent $191 million contribution to Yemen and urged the Department to work with Sweden and Switzerland to encourage other countries to contribute to a second round of fundraising efforts for life-saving aid to Yemen.

“Today, nearly 50,000 people in Yemen are living in famine-like conditions with 5 million more just a step away. Unlike in 2018, the international community has so far mostly failed to rise to the challenge and provide the robust funding needed to stave off this catastrophe,” the Senators wrote.

They continued: “Since 2019, the amount of money donors are sending to relief agencies working in Yemen has been falling, even as the situation has deteriorated. In 2019, the UN’s humanitarian appeal of $4.2 billion was 87 percent funded. In 2020, the UN’s $3.4 billion appeal was 50 percent funded. Today, just 34 percent of this year’s $3.85 billion appeal for Yemen has been fulfilled.”

Senator Shaheen has led several efforts in the Senate to address U.S. policy in Yemen. She worked with a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act of 2018, comprehensive legislation to ensure effective Congressional oversight of U.S. policy on Yemen, provide leverage to push the stakeholders in Yemen’s civil war toward a political process, address the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and demand meaningful accountability for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In addition, Senators Shaheen and Young worked successfully to include Section 1290 in the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (P.L. 115-232), which required the Secretary of State to submit written, detailed and unclassified certifications related to the efforts of the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Yemen. Following the first certification to Congress in September 2018, Shaheen and Young wrote to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, voicing concerns that the certification did not reflect the facts on the ground. Unfortunately, the Trump administration refused to provide the second required assessment.

Full text of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear Secretary Blinken,

Your appearance at this year’s UN donor conference for Yemen was a strong signal of American leadership to bring attention to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and we welcome the announcement of an additional $191 million in U.S. assistance to alleviate the suffering in Yemen. Unfortunately, international donors have fallen more than $2.5 billion short of what humanitarian partners in Yemen require this year. We urge you to support another donors conference that fills that funding shortfall, as doing so could mean the difference between life and death for millions of Yemenis.

Six years of war has left 20 million Yemenis – two-thirds of the population – in need of humanitarian aid. This year, 16 million people will face hunger and 400,000 children could starve to death. The conditions in Yemen have not been this dire since 2018, when the UN was warning that half of the country was at risk of famine. With a massive infusion of emergency aid and diplomatic pressure that prevented an assault on Hodeidah, that famine was averted and millions of lives were saved.

Unfortunately, the looming threat of famine has re-emerged. Today, nearly 50,000 people in Yemen are living in famine-like conditions with 5 million more just a step away. Unlike in 2018, the international community has so far mostly failed to rise to the challenge and provide the robust funding needed to stave off this catastrophe.

Since 2019, the amount of money donors are sending to relief agencies working in Yemen has been falling, even as the situation has deteriorated. In 2019, the UN’s humanitarian appeal of $4.2 billion was 87 percent funded. In 2020, the UN’s $3.4 billion appeal was 50 percent funded. Today, just 34 percent of this year’s $3.85 billion appeal for Yemen has been fulfilled.

The countries leading the fundraising effort for Yemen – Switzerland and Sweden – have called for another fundraising conference to fill this $2.5 billion shortfall. We urge you to work with other major donors to rally around that meeting, mobilizing the resources needed to stave off famine and save lives. More than 20 million Yemenis depend on humanitarian assistance to survive, and we cannot let them down. 

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