UN envoy Angelina Jolie in Yemen ahead of fundraising summit

UNHCR Special Envoy, Angelina Jolie arrives in Yemen, Sunday, March 6, 2022 on a visit to help draw attention to the catastrophic consequences of the 7 year conflict on the people of Yemen. (Marwan Tahtah/UNHCR via AP) (Marwan Tahtah, Marwan Tahtah/UNHCR)

CAIRO – Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie on Sunday visited war-wrecked Yemen to show solidarity with displaced families in hopes of mobilizing support for an incoming fundraising conference, the United Nations said.

Jolie, who is special envoy for the U.N. on refugee issues, landed in the southern coastal city of Aden to meet with families and refugees there. Aden is the seat of the internationally recognized government.

The U.N. refugee agency said it hopes that Jolie’s visit would draw attention to growing humanitarian needs in Yemen, the Arab World's poorest country, ahead of the annual High Level Pledging Conference for Yemen on March 16.

“As we continue to watch the horrors unfolding in Ukraine and call for an immediate end to the conflict and humanitarian access, I am here in Yemen to support people who also desperately need peace. The situation here is one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world,” Jolie said in a post on her Instagram account.

Yemen has been convulsed by civil war since 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels took control of the capital, Sanaa, and much of the country’s north, forcing the government to flee to the south, then to Saudi Arabia. A Saudi-led coalition, backed at the time by the United States, entered the war in 2015 to try to restore Yemen’s government to power.

The conflict has since become a regional proxy war that has killed more than 150,000 people, including over 14.500 civilians, according to 2022 data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Project. It also created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

According to the U.N. refugee agency, about 66% of Yemen’s 30 million people rely on humanitarian assistance for their daily survival, including over 4.2 million displaced people and 102,000 refugees and asylum-seekers.

The head of the World Food Program, David Beasley, told The Associated Press last month that around 13 million people were heading toward starvation in Yemen due to the protracted conflict and lack of funding.

The U.N. humanitarian office has reported that its 2021 humanitarian plan for Yemen received $2.27 billion out of its $3.85 billion requirement, the lowest funding level since 2015.