Secretary Antony J. Blinken
at the 2021 High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen
March 1, 2021
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you so much, Secretary-General Guterres. Foreign Minister Cassis, Foreign Minister Linde, Under-Secretary-General Lowcock, everyone in the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for bringing us together today.
The humanitarian crisis taking place in Yemen is the largest and most urgent in the world. Twenty million people, including millions of children, desperately need help. The United States is committed to doing our part, both to provide aid and to help address the obstacles standing in the way of humanitarian access.
Today, I’m pleased to announce nearly $191 million in additional humanitarian assistance from the United States, bringing our Fiscal Year 2021 funding up to more than $350 million. In total, the United States has provided more than 3.4 billion in aid to the Yemeni people since the crisis began six years ago.
This funding supports our partners in delivering assistance that is needed immediately, including food, protection, education, shelter, health, water, sanitation, and the prevention and treatment of severe malnutrition. It also goes to longer-term humanitarian need, like the rehabilitation of water systems, the repair of critical roads, and support to help families earn incomes.
I commend the generous pledges made by other donors. Now, we need others – especially those in the region – to step up. The scale of this emergency can be addressed only through a sustained and coordinated effort by a broad range of donors, UN agencies, and NGOs. And we must act fast, because the economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic are making the humanitarian crisis even worse.
I want to recognize the courageous aid workers who are risking their lives to help bring to those – to help bring assistance to those who need it. All parties across northern and southern Yemen must cease interference in aid operations and allow assistance to reach the innocent women, children, and men who have borne the brunt of this crisis.
We also call on all parties to allow the unhindered import and distribution of fuel. Fuel shortages like the one happening now only worsen the humanitarian situation.
Of course, while aid can help lessen suffering and mitigate the desperation that often fuels conflicts, aid alone will not end the conflict. We can only end the humanitarian crisis in Yemen by ending the war in Yemen. And so the United States is reinvigorating our diplomatic efforts to end the war.
We’ve listened to the concerns from the United Nations, from humanitarian groups, and members of Congress, and we are committed to putting the well-being of the Yemeni people at the forefront of our policy while continuing to put pressure on the leaders of Ansarallah, also known as the Houthis. We call on the Houthis to cease their cross-border attacks and military offensives that prolong this war. We support the UN-led process and UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths in their efforts to establish a ceasefire, increase humanitarian access, and resume peace talks. And we call on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and cease attacks on civilians.
As you may know, I recently appointed a U.S. special envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking. He reports that the Saudis and the Republic of Yemen Government are committed and eager to find a solution to the conflict. We call on the Houthis to match this commitment. A necessary first step is to stop their offensive against Marib, a city where a million internally displaced people live, and to join the Saudis and the government in Yemen in making constructive moves toward peace.
Let me conclude by reiterating that we support the UN-led process to establish a ceasefire. We’re committed to increasing humanitarian access. We insist that violations against civilians cease. And we are hopeful for the speedy resumption of peace talks aimed at finally bringing an end to this conflict. The time is now to make this push and bring about a more stable, prosperous Yemen whose citizens will be able to rebuild their lives and – at long last – have hope in a better future.