World Bank approves $150 million to restore services in Yemeni cities

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Bank agreed on Thursday to grant war-torn Yemen $150 million to help some of its hardest-hit cities restore basic services and fight a cholera epidemic.

An agreement signed by a World Bank official and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is funded by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the world’s poorest countries.

“The new project will target issues like uncollected trash and untreated sewage water ... and also address access to electricity for critical services and urgent needs for road repair to improve mobility and access,” a statement issued by the UNOPS said.

Civil war broke out in Yemen in March 2015, between the Iran-aligned Houthis and the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The agreement covers the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa and the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah as well as the southern port city of Aden, the temporary capital of Hadi’s government.

Some 900,000 suspected cholera cases have been recorded in the past seven months, including 2,200 deaths.

The heads of three U.N. agencies issued a fresh plea on Thursday for the Saudi-led military coalition to lift its blockade on Yemen, saying that without aid shipments “untold thousands of innocent victims, among them many children, will die”.

One million children are at risk from a diphtheria outbreak and millions threatened by hunger, the heads of the World Food Programme, UNICEF and the World Health Organization said in the joint statement.

Reporting by Tom Miles; writing by Aziz El Yaakoubi; editing by Sami Aboudi