Yemen: Switzerland reaffirms its commitment and appeals to warring parties

Press release, 23.12.2016

In view of the worsening humanitarian crisis in Yemen, Switzerland is reaffirming its commitment to help the destitute civilian population by making an additional CHF 3 million available to the Yemen Humanitarian Pooled Fund managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) over the next 12 months. The money will be used to fund water, hygiene and nutrition projects.

Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East. The food security of 14.1 million people has been undermined and 7 million are suffering from acute malnutrition, many of them children. Basic healthcare provision is insufficient. 20 million people have no access to clean water. Yemen has taken in more than 280,000 refugees from the Horn of Africa in recent years and is a transit country for migrants heading to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Armed conflicts have internally displaced over 3 million people.

With every passing day of war, the suffering of the population increases. According to UN figures, around 19 million people – more than 70% of the population – are now reliant on humanitarian aid. This man-made humanitarian disaster is compounding the suffering of the Yemeni people, many of whom lived in poverty even before the conflict.

To alleviate the population's most urgent and acute humanitarian needs, Switzerland is making an additional CHF 3 million available to the Yemen Humanitarian Pooled Fund managed by OCHA over the next 12 months. The fund primarily supports emergency relief projects in the areas of healthcare, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) and food aid. Switzerland also sent a cholera expert to Yemen for two weeks to train the UN and local authorities in how best to contain the disease.

A political solution to the situation in Yemen is needed to ensure a lasting peace. Switzerland is therefore supporting the work of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. Only with an immediate ceasefire together with the resumption of the UN-facilitated peace talks can the loss of human life in Yemen be stopped.

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs calls on all parties to the Yemen conflict to respect human rights and international humanitarian law and to protect the civilian population. With the country threatened by famine, the civilian population in all occupied and difficult-to-reach areas must be supplied with humanitarian aid quickly and bottlenecks affecting food imports must be eliminated.

Switzerland has been active in Yemen since 2007. Its humanitarian programme currently focuses on water, sanitation and hygiene projects as well as projects to protect the civilian population. The overall budget for projects implemented by Switzerland in Yemen is around CHF 9 million per year. Switzerland is working with multilateral partners such as the ICRC, WFP, UNICEF and UNHCR, and carries out projects with bilateral partners including Oxfam, Save the Children and the Norwegian Refugee Council.

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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs