The United Kingdom is dedicating 35 million pounds ($56 million) over the next three years to fight a malnutrition “death sentence” and improve the health of 1.65 million women and children in Yemen.
The aid package will be channeled to UNICEF and will be used for treating severe acute malnutrition, providing vitamin supplements and deworming services, nutritional counseling, improving water and sanitation facilities, and training of community health volunteers. It forms part of the 196 million pounds the United Kingdom pledged in September, and is the first of major programs the country is planning for Yemen for 2012-2015.
Minister of State for International Development Alan Duncan stressed the importance of long-term support to enable aid agencies, such as UNICEF, to respond to immediate and short-term needs. Such assistance could also help address the root causes of the food and health crises, and provide holistic and lasting support to the Yemenis.
“The launch of this major new programme shows that the UK is serious about commitments made in Riyadh and New York,” Duncan said in a press release.
“Others must now follow this lead and provide predictable, long-term funding. Without that, agencies can’t commit to tackling the root causes of malnutrition in case their funding is stopped half way through — resulting in time and money down the drain and more lives lost.”
According to the Department for International Development, the assistance will focus on mothers and children under 5 years of age in areas where the need is most dire. Yemen has one of the highest poverty levels in the Middle East and some of the most severe malnutrition cases in the world, where one in three children suffers life-threatening acute malnutrition.
Concerted efforts for Yemen have been flowing in since September, when two international donor conferences were held separately in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and New York. The conferences brought in $7.9 billion in pledges to address the humanitarian and development needs of the strife-torn country.
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