Canada pledges $47M in aid at conference on Yemen

As nations gathered Tuesday in Geneva at a United Nations conference on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the Canadian government said it is pledging $46.7 million in aid.

"Canada's support in Yemen is driven by our desire to end a terrible situation that has caused the suffering of so many people — especially women and children who bear the brunt of the crisis," Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of international development, said in a statement.

"The human cost of the ongoing conflict in Yemen is dire."

The nearly five-year war, which has killed tens of thousands of people, and ensuing economic collapse have left 16 million facing severe hunger. While a deadly cholera epidemic in 2017 was stalled, aid agencies say the threat still remains due to water supply and sanitation concerns.

Canada has previously committed $130 million in aid for Yemen overall since 2015.

Canada said it will continue to work with UN agencies and the Red Cross to provide urgently needed food, medicine and clean water, there would also be a focus on "the urgent needs of women and girls, including the provision of sexual and reproductive health services."

UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said in a statement Tuesday that children were particularly at risk, with 80 per cent in need of humanitarian assistance and 360,000 under the age of five suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

Saudi Arabia is leading the Western-backed Sunni Muslim coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 against the Houthis to try to restore Hadi's government, which was ousted from power in the capital Sanaa in 2014.

Saudi Arabia announced a $500 million US contribution at the Geneva pledging conference while the U.S. delegation promised $24 US million.