SANAA – The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) is increasing the level of food aid to the worst hunger hot spots in Yemen to prevent devastating famine. But the agency’s ability to sustain the response until the end of the year remains uncertain.
“Yemen’s continued fragility, compounded by persistent factors of food insecurity, has made Yemen extremely vulnerable to worsening levels of hunger and famine,” said Laurent Bukera, WFP Country Director for Yemen . “Escalating conflict, economic decline, rising global commodity prices and COVID-19 have all contributed to an alarming increase in acute hunger over the past year.”
Almost 50,000 people in Yemen are already living in conditions bordering on famine and 5 million people are in immediate danger. A child dies every 10 minutes from preventable diseases such as diarrhea, malnutrition and respiratory tract infections.
To meet these acute needs, WFP resumed monthly distributions to 350,000 people in 11 districts facing famine conditions (IPC5) in February.
In April and May of this year, after confirmation of new funds, WFP began scaling up assistance to nearly 6 million people in the nine governorates with the highest rates of ’emergency’ food insecurity. ‘(IPC4): Hajjah, Al Jawf, Amran, Al Hodeidah Raymah, Al Mahwit, Saada, Dhamar and Taiz. From June, these people will once again receive the full ration each month.
WFP is supporting a total of 12.9 million people with food assistance in Yemen, prioritizing areas with the highest rates of food insecurity and providing rapid assistance to families displaced by conflict, as in the governorate of Marib.
But in April 2020, in a difficult operating environment and facing reduced funding, WFP was forced to stop providing assistance on a monthly basis, and providing it every two months, in the northern regions of Yemen.
This year, donors have so far increased nearly $ 947 million for WFP’s famine prevention efforts in Yemen, including large-scale support from the United States, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, from the United Arab Emirates, Germany and the European Union.
WFP’s food security monitoring, which tracks food consumption, dietary diversity and food-related coping strategies, will soon show the impact of gradually scaling up aid, as evidenced by significant increase in aid in 2019, when famine last threatened.
“We will start to see the impact in the coming months, but the initial gains will be fragile,” Bukera warned, “WFP’s ability to maintain this level of response until the end of the year is at stake. Sustainable, predictable and flexible funding is needed immediately, otherwise we will see all progress reversed and the needs will increase rapidly in what is an unpredictable and difficult operating environment.
Hunger has increased in Yemen with the escalation of the conflict, displacing families for the third or even the fourth time as the war enters its seventh year. Rising food prices – up to 200 percent above pre-war levels – have made food unaffordable for millions of people.
On top of that, a deadly second wave of COVID-19 is sweeping through Yemen and the healthcare system is unable to cope.
As UN Security Council Resolution 2417 – adopted three years ago this month – makes clear, the corrosive cycle of hunger and conflict means that peace will be the only lasting solution to the crisis. of hunger in Yemen.
To date, humanitarian assistance is vital and the consequences of a new funding gap would be devastating for Yemenis. – SG