Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, Statement on Support for the Cholera Response in Yemen

Um Taha sits with her four children who are suffering from cholera. She has been camping on the floor of the diarrhoea treatment centre in the heart of Sana’a city for the past four days. (Photo: UNICEF Yemen/2017/Rajat Madhok)

New York, 24 June 2017

I welcome the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s announcement yesterday that it will contribute $66.7 million to UNICEF and the World Health Organization to combat cholera in Yemen.

This follows an announcement by the European Commission that it will provide an additional $5.6 million for the cholera response, bringing the Commission’s total to $9.9 million.

With the number of suspected cholera cases having surpassed 200,000 this week, we urge all donors to make funds available immediately so that the UN and its partners can continue to scale up the response to the required level. We also urgently need further funding for the 2017 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan, which requires $2.1 billion – but is only is 30 per cent funded.

The deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Yemen over the past two years – with 6.8 million people now a step away from famine and 1,300 deaths associated with the current cholera epidemic – was preventable. The humanitarian crisis is man-made, driven by conflict and the actions of the parties that have prevented the delivery of aid to people in need, as well as by the inaction of the international community.

As the Eid approaches, I call on all parties to the conflict and those that support them to respect international humanitarian law and principles and do all they can to facilitate the response in all communities at risk of cholera.

Once committed, the funding through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre will have a significant impact in our efforts to beat back the epidemic. We are grateful for the announcement and also thank all donors that have generously committed funds to the humanitarian response in Yemen.

As critical as humanitarian aid is at this juncture, the only lasting solution to horrors like cholera and famine is to end the conflict.