Saudi to host Yemen donor conference on June 2

Riyadh (AFP) –


Saudi Arabia will host a donor conference to support Yemen on June 2, state media reported on Sunday, as the conflict-torn country faces the threat of coronavirus.

The conference will be held virtually in partnership with the United Nations, the official Saudi Press Agency reported, as the Arab world's poorest country also battles widespread hunger and disease.

The kingdom, which counts itself as a top donor to Yemen since it led a 2015 military intervention against Iran-aligned Huthi rebels, did not say how much money was expected to be raised from the event.

The SPA did not say what purpose the conference was raising funds for but the announcement comes as aid organisations warn that a coronavirus outbreak could have dire consequences after six years of civil war in Yemen.

On Tuesday, Huthi rebels announced the first coronavirus death in the capital Sanaa, which they control, stoking new fears of a major outbreak in the country.

The death brings the number of people who have died from the virus in Yemen to four and the total number of confirmed cases to 22.

Yemen's healthcare system has been blighted by years of conflict that has driven millions from their homes and plunged the country into what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The conflict between government forces and the Iran-backed Huthis escalated in March 2015, when a Saudi-led military coalition intervened against the rebels after they overran much of the country.

The war has left tens of thousands of people dead, most of them civilians, and the UN says around 24 million Yemenis -- more than two thirds of the population -- rely on some form of aid.