Yemenis gather beside a burning vehicle that allegedly belonged to Houthi fighters near Aden, Yemen. Picture: EPA/STRINGER
Yemenis gather beside a burning vehicle that allegedly belonged to Houthi fighters near Aden, Yemen. Picture: EPA/STRINGER

Riyadh — Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which lead a military coalition against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, offered Monday $200m in aid to the country for the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

The donation, announced simultaneously in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, is part of a $500m aid package announced by the allies in November to tackle widespread hunger and disease in the war-torn country.

The Ramadan aid will be split between various UN agencies, including the World Food Programme (WFP), the children's agency Unicef and the World Health Organisation (WHO), officials in both countries said.

"Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are keen to implement an urgent programme with strategic partners — particularly WFP, Unicef and WHO — to mitigate the situation of malnutrition ... in Yemen and help to avert famine and the epidemic diseases associated with famine," the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre said.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE intervened in the Yemen war in 2015 to bolster Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after the Houthis took over the capital, Sanaa.

Over the past four years, the coalition — facing global pressure over what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen — has contributed $18bn in aid to the war-torn country, the statement said.

Both the military coalition backing the government and the Houthi rebels stand accused of acts that could amount to war crimes.

The WHO estimates nearly 10,000 Yemenis have been killed since 2015, when Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened to prevent the defeat of the government in the face of a rebel offensive.

Human rights groups say the real death toll is several times higher.

The conflict has pushed millions of Yemenis to the brink of mass starvation, in what the UN has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

AFP