Four years of armed conflict have submerged Yemen in the most serious humanitarian crisis currently facing the world, with millions of people deprived of water, food and healthcare. At the same time, the conflict is hampering the delivery of humanitarian aid. Switzerland is stepping up its support and has pledged CHF 13.5 million to help the people of Yemen. Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga, representing Switzerland as Vice-President of the Federal Council, announced the pledge today in Geneva at a donor conference organised by Switzerland in conjunction with Sweden and the UN.
24 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance in Yemen. That represents 80% of the population. 20 million people are facing food insecurity and nearly half that number are threatened by famine. Now in its fourth year, the conflict has forced 3.3 million people into exile. The destruction of hospitals and water and sanitation infrastructure has contributed to the spread of epidemics. Meanwhile, security conditions prevent the delivery of aid. All these factors make the situation in Yemen the worst humanitarian crisis currently facing the world.
Switzerland is committed to supporting the Yemeni population, announcing its continued assistance at a donor conference held today in Geneva. Under the aegis of Switzerland, Sweden and the UN, representatives of 75 countries, international organisations and NGOs met to mobilise the necessary funding for humanitarian operations. By the end of the conference, the participants had pledged USD 2,6 billion.
Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga, heading the Swiss delegation in her role as Vice-President of the Federal Council, announced a contribution of CHF 13.5 million for 2019. This funding will be allocated by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and will be used to support the SDC's ongoing activities in Yemen and the operations of its partners such as the ICRC and the WFP. Access to water and sanitation, food security and the protection of civilians are the priorities of Switzerland's humanitarian commitment in Yemen.
In her speech, Ms Sommaruga called on all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law. She said the time had come to find a way to restore peace and that it was for this reason that Switzerland supports the UN peace process. Furthermore, she commended the tireless efforts of the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, saying that the Stockholm consultations had been an important first step, and the challenge now was to build on the momentum established by them.