(Corrects figure in para 2 to $2.1 billion instead of $1.2 bln)
* UN chief Guterres decries "a tragedy of immense
* Says a child dies every 10 minutes in Yemen of hunger,
* UN seeks $2.1 billion to assist 19 million people in need
* Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Germany, U.S. make pledges
* WFP official warns that real famine "will shame us"
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA, April 25 The United Nations needs
massive funds to avert famine in Yemen and warring parties there
must ensure humanitarian aid can be delivered, U.N.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday as he opened
a donor conference in Geneva.
A U.N. appeal for $2.1 billion this year for Yemen, where
Guterres said a child under the age of five dies of preventable
causes every 10 minutes, is only 15 percent covered.
Two years of conflict between Houthi rebels aligned with
Iran and a Western-backed, Saudi-led coalition that carries out
air strikes almost daily have killed at least 10,000 people in
Yemen, and hunger and disease are rife there.
Nearly 19 million people or two-thirds of the population
need emergency aid, Guterres said, renewing a call for peace
talks and urging all parties to "facilitate the rapid and
unimpeded passage of humanitarian aid by air, sea and land".
"We are witnessing the starving and the crippling of an
entire generation. We must act now to save lives," he added.
"All infrastructure must remain open and operational."
Yemen's Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid Bin Daghr said his
government, which controls only part of the country, would allow
access for aid supplies. "We are ready to open new corridors for
this aid," he said.
Initial pledges announced at the conference included $150
million from Saudi Arabia, $100 million from Kuwait, 50 million
euros ($54.39 million) from Germany and $94 million from the
The World Food Programme (WFP) has committed $1 billion to
Yemen and reached a record 5 million people last month with
rations but needs to scale up deliveries to reach 9 million who
are deemed "severely food insecure", its regional director
Muhannad Hadi said in an interview.
They include some 3 million malnourished children.
"REAL FAMINE THAT WILL SHAME US"
"If the international community does not move right now, and
if WFP does not get the right funding and support to address all
needs, I think the cost of that will be real famine that will
shame us in coming months and weeks," Hadi told Reuters.
Yemen imports 90 percent of its food, 70 percent of which
passes through the strategic Red Sea port of Hodeidah. Concerns
are growing about a possible attack by the Yemeni government and
its Arab allies, who say the Houthis use it to smuggle weapons
"We are concerned about (all) facilities in Yemen because at
this stage we can't afford to even lose one bridge or one road
network let alone to lose a major facility like Hodeidah port,"
"In order to achieve security in this region, we have to
address the food security needs. It's impossible to have
security in the country while people are hungry," he said.
The U.N. called on April 5 for safeguarding of the port,
where five cranes have been destroyed by airstrikes, forcing
ships to line up offshore because they cannot be unloaded.
U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien told the
conference the United Nations and its humanitarian partners are
scaling up and are prepared to do more, "provided there are
resources and access".
($1 = 0.9193 euros)
(Editing by Catherine Evans)