UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore's Remarks at Yemen Pledging Conference

As prepared for delivery

02 March 2021
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NEW YORK, 1 March 2021 – "The children of Yemen are counting on us.

"They’re living through a nightmare of endless fighting.

"They’re threatened by malnutrition — and deadly disease like diarrhea caused by unsafe water.

"They face crushing poverty, a ruined economy and now, COVID-19.  

"Basic services — education, health, water and nutrition — have collapsed.

"Half of all health facilities no longer function. Many have been destroyed.  Remaining services are teetering on the edge.

"And the increased hostilities and lack of respect for the basic rules of war in Hudaydah and Marib are pushing thousands of families to flee.

"Exhausted families are making decisions no family should have to make.

"Whether they should flee their homes. 

"Whether they should compromise the quality or quantity of the food they eat or water they drink — often both.

"Whether they can afford even basic health care for their children.

"After nearly six brutal years, this situation is getting worse.

"Nearly every child in Yemen now requires humanitarian assistance.

"Over 12 million young lives are in danger — an entire generation’s worth.

"And we’re entering a very dark chapter.

"Nearly 2.3 million children under five years of age are at risk of acute malnutrition this year. Among the highest levels yet seen in Yemen.

"Without treatment, these children will likely die.

"We need to act fast and collectively.

"Shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners, UNICEF is providing clean water and vaccines. We’re keeping primary healthcare centres and hospitals operational. We’re responding to COVID-19. And we’re providing emergency cash transfers.

"But across the board, our organizations are facing a funding cliff. 

"The children of Yemen are once again counting on your urgent generosity. 

"They are also praying for peace.

"We’re seeing encouraging signs of renewed political momentum.

"But for the children of Yemen, words are not enough.

"Words won’t re-open — or re-build — schools or hospitals.

"Words won’t kick-start vaccination drives.

"Words won’t ease the heartbreak of Yemeni parents watching helplessly as their child dies from hunger or preventable disease.

"Nor will they erase children’s fears for their future.

"So, as we renew our call for urgent funding, we do the same for our call for peace.

"Because children in Yemen deserve what every child wants. To play. Learn. Go to school. Make friends. And look ahead with hope, not fear.

"So please — help us deliver that hope by committing to the Yemeni people. Let’s pull a country, and a weary population, back from the brink.

"Thank you."

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Media contacts

Juliette Touma
Regional Chief of Communications
UNICEF Middle East and North Africa Regional Office
Tel: 00962798674628

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