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The Latest: Charity: More money for bombs than aid in Yemen

GENEVA (AP) — The Latest on the pledging conference on Yemen (all times local): 3:35 p.m. An international charity says pledges of donations for humanitarian work in Yemen fall short of what is needed to help the 80 percent of the country's population now in need of aid.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday the pledges have reached $2.6 billion, a 30 percent increase on the amount pledged at a similar donors conference last year. The Norwegian Refugee Council says in a statement that "while billions are spent on bombs and weapons bringing death and destruction, much less is made available to save lives of Yemeni civilians."

Mohamed Abdi, the council's director in Yemen, urges Yemen's warring parties "to give us unhindered access to people in need, and to stop interfering in the delivery of aid."

3:10 p.m.

U.N. officials say aid workers have regained access to key grain storage silos in the conflict-ridden Yemeni port city of Hodeida for the first time in six months

Speaking at an aid pledging conference on Yemen in Geneva, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hailed the renewed access to the Red Sea mills facility as positive news.

Access had been blocked due to fighting between forces loyal to the internationally recognized Yemeni government and a Saudi-led coalition, and Iran-aligned rebels.

The rebels, known as Houthis, had blocked the World Food Program from crossing a front line into the government-controlled area where the silos are located.

WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said some 51,000 metric tons of wheat — enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month — had been in storage at the site when it was rendered inaccessible. He said an assessment is under way to determine the state of the wheat.

1:10 p.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says pledges of donations for humanitarian work in Yemen have reached $2.6 billion, led by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. That is a 30 percent increase on the amount pledged at a similar donors conference last year.

War-battered Yemen is facing the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with some 24 million people, or four-fifths of the country's total population, requiring aid and protection. The U.N. is holding a donors conference in Geneva on Tuesday, seeking $4 billion from its members for its work in Yemen.

U.N. officials say they are running out of money in a country also facing a devastated health care system, a lack of jobs, continued fighting and fallout from the world's worst cholera epidemic in 2017.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are also active participants in the conflict. They lead a Western-backed coalition that supports the internationally recognized Yemeni government against Iran-aligned rebels known as Houthis who control the major population centers in Yemen.

11:10 a.m.

The United Nations has opened a third pledging conference in hopes of drumming up some $4 billion this year for Yemen, a war-battered country facing the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Host U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres lamented "an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe" where some 24 million people, or four-fifths of Yemen's total population, require aid and protection.

"Twenty million people cannot reliably feed themselves or their families," he said in Geneva, where the meeting is taking place. "Almost 10 million are just one step away from famine."

U.N. officials say they are running out of money in a country also facing a devastated health care system, a lack of jobs, continued fighting and fallout from the world's worst cholera epidemic in 2017.

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