Muscat: Faced with a shortage of funds to support the needy in conflict-hit Yemen, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is counting on Omani generosity.
“We are always grateful for any help provided to us by the people of any country to help refugees in need,” said the UNHCR.
The United Nations (UN) is falling far short of the required funds in order to build schools and hospitals, and provide decent living quarters to those affected by the conflict in Yemen, as political and economic turmoil across the globe leads to a stretching of resources for the organisation.
“The United Nations had a budget of $80 million allocated to Yemen for 2017, and currently, we’ve fulfilled less than 30 per cent of that amount,” said Mohammed Asaker, senior regional public information officer for the UNHCR.
“This money goes towards building hospitals for those affected by the conflict, schools for the children, because they are unable to go to school anymore, camps for them to stay in, and helps us coordinate with partners who arrange food and water for those who have been displaced because of it.”
“Our annual budgets show we are far short of the money required to help those in Yemen, so we ask those living in Oman to help their neighbours across the border,” added Asaker. “Oman has always had a culture of helping those in need and we would be grateful for any help they can provide us.”
This shortfall seems to mirror the problems the UNHCR faced last year as well. In the wake of the Yemen conflict, the UN set up the Yemen Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan, a joint operation between the different arms of the UN, including the UNCHR, the World Food Programme, the World Health Organisation, and the UN Population Fund.
Other organisations, such as the Danish and Norwegian refugee councils and Save the Children, had also sent aid, but the UN was unable to meet its funding requirements to help those who needed it the most last year: of the $94 million required, they were only able to collect about $30 million, around 32 per cent of the required funding.
“This is why we have set up an online portal for people to donate money to help those in Yemen, or for any other cause that the UNHCR is involved in,” added Asaker. “These contributions go a long way in ensuring that the refugees have a safe place to live in, because the situation they are in is outside their control.
“There are currently about 3.3 million refugees and internally displaced persons because of this conflict in Yemen, and any donations towards the programmes we have to help them are always welcome,” he said.
The UNHCR also acknowledged the Sultanate’s tireless and selfless efforts towards organising medical mercy flights for those who were unable to fend for themselves in Yemen, with UN-based field hospitals and other medical facilities overstretched because of the conflict.
According to the latest UNHCR data, 51,000 people have arrived from Yemen in Oman, in the wake of the conflict. 5,000 of them are Yemenis, while the rest are foreign nationals.
“We would never advise the refugees in a country to leave their nation for another, because this would lead to other problems, but any help given to them by the people of any other country is welcome, because this helps ease the pressure off of us,” said Asaker.
“We know that Oman has organised several mercy missions to help the people who needed medical help in Yemen, and we are grateful to them for that.”