WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) today applauded a pair of letters from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22) to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting USAID Administrator John Barsa seeking to restore $73 million in suspended humanitarian aid to northern Yemen, where 80% of its people live.
“Continued humanitarian work in Yemen is critical, with 4 million displaced and more than 24 million in need of daily aid to survive. Despite this untold suffering, the Trump administration has suspended $73 million in USAID assistance to northern Yemen,” said FCNL General Secretary Diane Randall. “Making matters worse, these cuts are occurring alongside a 50% cut in World Food Program aid to most of Yemen, the reduction or closing of three quarters of all major UN aid programs, and a rollback of WHO programming.”
Before the pandemic, Yemen was considered the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. As of this month, the World Health Organization reports that 29% of Yemen’s COVID-19 cases led to fatalities, making it one of the deadliest places in the world to be infected. With the UN appeal for special assistance failing to raise the funds needed, health experts fear the crises will completely overwhelm the war-torn nation and spread throughout the region.
“It is unconscionable to cut off humanitarian aid to Yemen in the middle of the pandemic – especially after supporting Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemeni hospitals,” said Hassan El-Tayyab, FCNL’s legislative manager for Middle East policy. “Now is not the time to play politics with aid. It’s welcome news that Congress is calling out this disastrous suspension and it’s clear that Yemen can’t wait any longer as it teeters on the edge of catastrophe.”
He added that while humanitarian aid is essential, aid alone can’t support a population of 30 million people. The Saudi blockade that has choked the economy is the main contributor to the humanitarian crisis and must be lifted to see real improvements. The long-term solution is a negotiated ceasefire that also brings an end to the blockade.
To learn more, please visit www.fcnl.org.
Timothy J. McHugh
Friends Committee on National Legislation