Saudi, UAE offer $200 mn in Ramadan aid to Yemen

Riyadh:Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which lead a military coalition against the Huthi rebels in Yemen, offered Monday $200 million in aid to the country for the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

The donation, announced simultaneously in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, is part of a $500 million aid package announced by the allies in November to tackle widespread hunger and disease in the war-torn country.

The Ramadan aid will be split between various UN agencies, including the World Food Programme, the children’s agency UNICEF and the World Health Organization, officials in both countries said.

“Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are keen to implement an urgent program with strategic partners — particularly WFP, UNICEF and WHO — to mitigate the situation of malnutrition… in Yemen and help to avert famine and the epidemic diseases associated with famine,” the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE intervened in the Yemen war in 2015 to bolster Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after the Huthis took over the capital Sanaa.

Over the past four years, the coalition — facing global pressure over what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen — has contributed $18 billion in aid to the war-torn country, the statement added.

Both the military coalition backing the government and the Huthi rebels stand accused of acts that could amount to war crimes.

The WHO estimates nearly 10,000 Yemenis have been killed since 2015, when Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened to prevent the defeat of the government in the face of a rebel offensive.

Human rights groups say the real death toll is several times higher.

The conflict has pushed millions of Yemenis to the brink of mass starvation, in what the UN has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.