Save the Children Australia has criticised the Australian Government’s funding priorities following a High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen.
This week, Australia failed to pledge a single dollar for life-saving aid in Yemen, despite the suffering of 17 million people after almost 7 years of conflict.
The leading humanitarian agency said the lack of aid for the war-torn nation from Australia was particularly concerning when the Government continue to allow Australian-made, taxpayer-subsidised weapons to be exported to key combatants in the war.
Over the next 10 years the Australian Government plans to distribute $70 billion through various grants, incentives and funding pools to grow Australia’s defence industry. Just last year, the Government gave six companies $1.2 million to boost their defence export capacity.
Save the Children’s Director of International Programs, Archie Law said Australia’s failure to contribute to the aid effort, while continuing to allow weapons exports to countries accused of committing war crimes in Yemen, was disturbing.
“Yemen may not be on our television screens every night, but the situation for children is no less desperate,” said Mr Law.
“We understand there is unprecedented need around the world and choices have to be made but looking at how much Australia is spending on subsidising weapons manufacturing it just doesn’t seem right.”
“To think Australian companies might be in some way gaining some commercial benefit from a conflict, in which war crimes against children have been committed, is horrifying.”
“I don’t think Australians would feel comfortable with Australian-made weapons potentially contributing to crimes against children in war anywhere. There is so much more we could be doing to support the children of Yemen.”
International donors at the UN pledging conference in Geneva this week raised USD $1.3 billion (AUD $1.8 billion), about 30% of the $4.2 billion (AUD $5.7 billion) needed in Yemen. This is the sixth year Yemen’s humanitarian response plan has not been fully funded.
Rama Hansraj, Save the Children’s Country Director in Yemen, said: “We are extremely disappointed that the world has let the children of Yemen down once again. The humanitarian needs in the country continue to grow every day with the lack of funding, and children are paying the heaviest price.
“The situation in Yemen is spiralling out of control and people’s resilience has been stretched beyond their capacity to cope. The conflict has seen an alarming increase in violence, with one civilian killed or injured every hour in January.
“Leading up to the pledging conference this month, hospitals in Yemen were forced to a near halt due to a lack of fuel, putting children’s lives at risk. Now, the country is bracing for the potential catastrophic impact the war in Ukraine is expected to have on its wheat supply.
“Our teams on the ground have seen the devastating consequences of last year's shortfall in funding, which threatened children’s access to life-saving food, humanitarian support, healthcare and education.”
Save the Children has been working in Yemen since 1963, implementing programs in education, child protection, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, and emergency response across most of the country.
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