Remarks by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore at the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen

02 June 2020

NEW YORK, 2 June 2020 - "The situation in Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. 

"And the burden is falling heavily on children. 

"This complex emergency has pushed children to the brink. 

"Almost every child in Yemen — 12 million — now needs humanitarian assistance. 

"Nearly half a million are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. 

"Millions could die from cholera and diarrhea because their families don’t have the water, sanitation and hygiene they need. 

"Schools, hospitals, water, nutrition — all of the systems that children need are collapsing. 

"Just half of all health facilities are functioning. 

"And we must never forget the psychological strain of waking up every day to another day filled with the uncertainty, violence and danger of war. 

"Now, these children are facing a new threat — COVID-19. 

"The disease is already ravaging Yemen. 

"It’s hard to imagine the risk to children in a country where the healthcare system hangs by a thread. 

"Where their schools, homes and neighbourhoods are not any more the places of safety that they should be. 

"I recently received a letter from a group of children in Yemen. 

"They wrote: 

‘It is our right to live in peace and to have all the rights to achieve our dreams… Some of us want to become doctors to treat patients and children, others want to learn music and become musicians, while some of us want just to go to school every day and complete their education to become pilots and fly the world...’

"These are the aspirations of the children of Yemen.

"Dreams that may never come true, because year after year, we continue to let these children down. 

"As a global community, we continue to ignore their pleas for peace. 

"They want what every child wants — a childhood. A future. A chance to achieve their dreams. 

"That’s why, against all odds, and despite immense challenges, UNICEF is staying and delivering for the children of Yemen. 

"We’ve been in Yemen for decades. We aren’t going anywhere. 

"And over the last five years, we’ve expanded our operations there. 

"Yemen now represents one of our largest humanitarian operations anywhere. 

"We’re treating severe acute malnutrition. Providing safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. We’re keeping hospitals and health facilities, including primary health centres, up-and-running. Thanks to donors and partners like the World Bank, we’re reaching more people with direct cash transfers than anywhere else in the world. 

"And we’re responding to COVID-19. 

"In the past eight weeks alone, we’ve reached 16 million people with information on how to stay safe using TV, radio and social media — and our network of volunteers. 

"We’re working to urgently bring in essential supplies, including personal protective equipment to keep health and nutrition workers safe. 

"Just 3 days ago, we managed to bring in — by road and air — essential PPE items like aprons, boots, masks and gloves. 

"This will help at least 1,600 health workers in primary health centres, hospitals and isolation units across Yemen provide vital health and nutrition services for three months. 

"But as we stay and deliver against all odds, we’re also facing a significant funding shortfall. 

"We’re appealing for US$518M to continue our response in Yemen. 

"The needs are urgent. 

"If we don’t get this funding, we will simply not be able to continue at the current scale for the rest of this year. 

"All of our programming will be affected — from health and WASH, to our work with communities to provide lifesaving information, to our infection prevention and control efforts. 

"We must not let these needs go unaddressed. 

"Yemen cannot afford it. The children of Yemen cannot afford it. 

"We appreciate all of the donors who have been standing with the children of Yemen — especially over the last five years. 

"They need your help once again — urgently. 

"Help us support them, so they can survive, thrive and achieve their dreams. 

"Let’s give them the chance to become the adults that Yemen, and the world, needs, when this war comes to an end. 

"Thank you."


Media contacts

Juliette Touma
Regional Chief of Advocacy and Communications
UNICEF Middle East and North Africa Regional Office
Tel: 00962798674628
Bismarck Swangin
Chief of Communication
Tel: +967712223161


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