AUSTRALIA has substantially boosted its financial commitment to tackling the looming famine in Yemen and Africa, approving another $30 million in foreign aid.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the Government would provide the money to South Sudan, Yemen and Somalia is response to “widespread and devastating’’ hunger and the spread of cholera.
“The Government will contribute $30 million in humanitarian assistance for people in these countries who are facing the risk of famine due to conflict and drought,’’ Ms Bishop said.
South Sudan and Somalia, where 13 million people require aid and millions have fled their homes, will receive $20 million, while another $10 million will go to Yemen, the Arabian Peninsula country in the grips of a civil war.
Ms Bishop said the money heading for South Sudan and Somalia would provide food for 50,000 people. Clean water and protection for vulnerable people, including survivors of sexual assault, will also be provided.
The Government has now committed a total of $64 million to the two African countries in response to conflict, drought and famine, in 2017.
In Yemen, Ms Bishop said 17 million people did not have access to sufficient food, including seven million who are at risk of famine.
“Over 500,000 people are affected by what the World Health Organisation has described as the world’s worst cholera outbreak, with children representing over 40 per cent of those impacted,’’ she said.
“Australia is providing $10 million to enable humanitarian agencies in Yemen to deliver food to people in need and to combat cholera, including by supporting 30,000 people to access clean water.’’
The money doubles Australia’s support of Yemen to $20 million in 2017.
The country has been gripped by a civil war that has raged since 2015, displacing two million people from their homes, destroying or shutting down half of the country’s medical facilities, and leading to poor hygiene which has sparked the deadly cholera outbreak, which is spread through infected water and food.
Warring forces aligned with the current and former presidents of Yemen, backed by international powers, have been bombing and shelling towns and cities across the already poor country, where an estimate 10,000 people have died.
Ms Bishop urged all sides to work towards peace and to assist aid agencies.
“We continue to urge all those involved in the conflict in Yemen to return to negotiations towards a permanent solution to the conflict and allow humanitarian agencies to access populations in need,’’ she said.
In Yemen, the Australian Government will provide $5 million to UNICEF to support projects delivering clean water for 10 million, vaccinating five million children against polio and providing 4.5 million hungry children with extra nutrition.
A further $3 million will go to the World Food Program, which is providing cash, vouchers and food to help people meet basic daily food needs. The Government had previously given the program $3 million in April.
Another $2 million will go to the Australian Humanitarian Partnership (Save the Children), expanding work already underway to provide clean water, cholera awareness and prevention and improving nutrition.
This will see 83,000 people assisted by the Australian contribution.