Saudis, UAE draw praise for pledging aid to Yemen
GENEVA — Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates drew praise Tuesday at a UN conference for offering $1 billion in aid for Yemen, where their air campaign against Houthi rebels has killed thousands of civilians, and where their crippling blockade has hindered aid delivery.
The one-day conference co-hosted by Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Nations collected pledges totaling $2.01 billion from 40 countries and organizations.
The United States announced nearly $87 million in additional humanitarian aid, while the European Union pledged $107.5 million in new funding this year.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres acknowledged that some donors were also parties of the conflict.
‘‘We all know who . . . the parties to the war [are],’’ he told reporters. ‘‘But the two things need to be seen separately, independently of the fact that there is a war. There are humanitarian obligations that are assumed by countries.’’
With the situation worsening, the conference easily surpassed the funding pledges of $1.1 billion at a similar event last year. Overall, the UN has appealed for $2.96 billion to provide assistance and protection to people in Yemen in 2018.
‘‘Several countries have already announced that there will be more donations from now until the end of the year,’’ the UN chief said. ‘‘So we are quite optimistic.’’
Guterres added: ‘‘As important as the financial contributions to this conference is the commitment of the parties to the conflict to come together to put an end to the war.’’
He said information gleaned by his new special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, during a trip to the region led him to believe there were positive perspectives that could possibly lead to an effective intra-Yemeni dialogue at some point. Guterres cited it as an opportunity to be seized.