Yemeni children (AP)

The Donor Conference and Chances to Support the «Humanitarian Response Plan» in Yemen


Tue, 21-03-2023 03:20 PM, Aden

The Donor Conference came to reconsider the available opportunities to support the "Humanitarian Response Plan" in Yemen amid challenges at all internal, regional and international levels.

Dr. Eman Zahran (South24)

Over the past years, political and security turmoil inside Yemen has led to the accumulation of humanitarian conditions in all fields, especially the health sector and the inability to provide food security needs. This has pushed the international community to arrange all humanitarian and social priorities in Yemen side by side to achieve political settlement requirements. This is in regard to what the Donor Conference, which was held in Geneva in February 2023, called for including achieving the following entitlements which represented the strategic goals [1] of 2023:

The first goal: It aims at reducing the death rates among women, girls, boys and men affected by the Yemeni crisis through providing them with humanitarian assistance to save their lives in time. This comes after limiting food insecurity, malnutrition, epidemics and preventable diseases. 

The second goal: It is based upon a hypothesis of increasing the access of vulnerable people from all ages affected by the crisis to multi -sectoral response and sustainable solutions. This is in addition to supporting the resilience ability of affected people through agriculture, means of subsistence, basic services and other permanent solutions interventions as well as establishing a workgroup for sustainable solutions under the supervision of the UN Resident Coordinator in Yemen.

The third goal: It is related to preventing, reducing and alleviating the protection and response risks through building a more protective environment and enhancing compliance with the humanitarian international and human rights laws as well as providing the initial assistance. 

The identity of donor conferences

The philosophy of “donor conferences” are derived from supporting the troubled countries in the pre-conflict phases and contributing in infrastructure reconstruction arrangements as well as helping those affected at health, social and humanitarian levels. This is different from the Yemeni case in which the donors have been interested in supporting the humanitarian conditions since the beginning of the conflict. This is not limited to the conflict states but includes the countries affected by natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and volcanoes. Furthermore, “donor conferences” carry two main aspects, the first is a humanitarian one related to the different roles of relief while the other is a political one which expresses the stances adopted by the states and their ideological orientations. 

It is worth mentioning that donor conferences come in parallel with the international path of achieving the peaceful settlement commitments. This is attained through focusing on the developmental and social aspects by contributing in alleviating the suffering of Yemeni people as well as supporting humanitarian, economic and developmental aspects in a way that impacts their security as well as their temporary and future stability. This stirs a number of remarks about the mechanism of the donor conferences of the “Yemeni issue” as follows:

- Based on the “Humanitarian Response Plan” in Yemen, the UN participates with the relevant countries to periodically organize “donor conferences” annually as one of the most important international traditions agreed upon by the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator of the Humanitarian Affairs [2]. This is partnership with other UN organizations and by coordinating with the non-governmental international organizations and the representatives of the national governmental bodies. 

- Donor conferences enhance creating developmental paths to achieve the requirements of urgent humanitarian needs, food, water, health and educational security as well as contributing in the logistic costs and rebuilding the infrastructure of the troubled country at both security and political levels.

- International organizations take charge of implementing the “Humanitarian Response Plan” in a very neutral way, in partnership with the governmental bodies and the non-governmental international organizations as well as the local civil society entities. This is through cooperating with all parties involved in the current conflict in a way that does not contradict with the rules and requirements of donors. [3]

There is a value problem which faces “donors’ conferences” related to the idea of "periodicity" and the increase of what is known as “Donor fatigue” as the contribution of donors has declined due to the continuous conflict without reaching consensus about clear paths to achieve the requirements of the political settlement. For example, the UN announced gathering only 1.2 billion $ of a total target of 4.3 billion $ to fund the Humanitarian Response Plan to help Yemen in 2023 during the Donor Conference organized by the Swedish and Swiss governments in partnership with the UN. [4]

Existing challenges

There are a number of challenges around the mechanism of the donor conference. This stirs concerns about the future influence of such a matter given the aforementioned remarks, especially what is related to “Donor fatigue” and simultaneously with the whole regional and international interactions and their direct impact on the opportunity of supporting “Humanitarian Response Plan” in Yemen as follows:

- Internal challenges: These challenges are represented at two levels, the first one is built on the failure of applying the economic reforms of the internationally-recognized government and the public budget deficit due to the internal situation in a way that reduces its ability to fulfill its most commitments towards citizens in the areas under its control. This includes- for example- funding public services, paying the salaries of public sector employees regularly as well as the failure to provide the sufficient allocations to finance the operational expenses of the various military and security formations affiliated with it. This is in addition to maintaining the readiness level of its forces across the confrontation fronts against its Houthi rivals. The second level is represented in the Houthi moves that oppose all international and regional efforts to achieve the negotiation trajectory and the post-truce arrangements as well as moving towards the peaceful settlement according to the international perceptions and relevant references. [5]

- Regional challenges: This hypothesis is built upon the consequences of the global conditions including the exhaustion of the regional countries which are most committed to the Yemeni issue such as KSA and the UAE and their failure to fulfill previous pledges regarding Yemen. For example, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi failed to provide a 3 billion $ grant in the eve of declaring the establishment of PLC [6].This is a result of the turmoil of the economic conditions due to the Russian-Ukrainian war as well as the slow recovery of the negative rebounds of Covid-19 pandemic. 

- International challenges: These challenges are related to the outcome of the Russian-Ukrainian war and the most prominent scenarios governing this conflict. This is given the involvement of all sub regions - whether directly or indirectly - and the reflection of that overlap of a number of priority files. The most prominent of which are: the economic file, the movement of monetary policies, the food file and the movement of wheat and oilseeds supply chains. For example, during the “Donor Conference 2023”, the EU countries reduced their financial contributions in supporting the humanitarian response programs in Yemen. On the other hand, they have enhanced their moves towards supporting “the Ukrainian issue”. Moreover, the economic recovery has been slowed due to the successive waves of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the rise of the right-wing forces in the Western states and their protectionism agenda that enhances the “politics of closure” and turning inwards.

Accordingly, the Donor Conference came to reconsider the available opportunities to support the Humanitarian Response Plan as well as evaluating the current efforts and building upon previous moves. This is amid challenges at all specific internal and regional levels in addition to those related to the overlap of the international interactions and their direct impact on managing the troubled files in the Middle East at political, security and humanitarian fields, foremost of which is the Yemeni file.

Dr. Eman Zahran

Egyptian researcher, specializing in international relations and regional security

[1] Donors’ conference on Yemen targets $4 billion, Sky News Arabia, 2/4/2022,

[2] David Gressly is the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations and the Humanitarian Coordinator of the United Nations in Yemen. For more information about the UN team in Yemen, see the following link:

[3] Dr. Mutahar Al-Abbasi, Yemen in the grip of donor conferences, Khayyat website, 4/13/2021, 

[4] Houthis impediment are an obstacle to financing.. pledges of $1.2 billion, Al-Ain news website, 2/27/2023,

[5] Text of Resolution No. 2216 of 2015,

[6] Will the International Donors Conference succeed in mitigating the worst humanitarian disaster in Yemen?, Sputnik Arabic website, 2/27/2023,

YemenDonor ConferenceYemeni Crisis