Food insecurity paving way for famine in Yemen: WFP
The United Nations has warned about the deteriorating food security in Yemen, saying the situation is pushing the impoverished country to the verge of famine.
“All the signs that will lead us to the qualifiable definition of famine are in fact developing in front of our eyes,” Ertharin Cousin, the executive director of the UN’s World Food Program (WFP), said Wednesday.
The warning came as Yemen, the poorest in the Arab world, has been under the Saudi military’s bombardment since March 2016. Thousands have died and more than a million have been displaced due to Riyadh’s military campaign.
Cousin, who was reading a statement to reporters in Cairo following his three-day trip to Yemen, urged the immediate access of WFP aid workers to areas of conflict.
“The markets do not have the staple food that is necessary to meet the needs of the broader population … The humanitarian community does not have the necessary access or funds,” he said.
A previous statement by the UN in June had warned that Yemen was a step away from famine. The WFP said, however, that food security for around 1.3 million displaced Yemenis is currently at its worst.
The statement said the agency faces serious difficulties and risks delivering food to the needy across Yemen, although it said more than 3.5 million people have been covered by the mission over the post months.
It said half a million children are severely malnourished while another 1.2 million are suffering from moderate to acute malnutrition.
According to the estimates by the WFP, around 13 million Yemenis are deemed food insecure at the current situation and the figure includes around six million in sever condition and “in urgent need of external assistance.”
Cousin said next month’s emergency food supply operation in Yemen would cost the UN around USD 320 million, calling on governments to speed up their donations.
“The damage to Yemen’s next generation may become irreversible if we don’t reach children quickly with the right food at the right time. We must act now before it is too late,” said Cousin’s statement.
‘Yemen faces catastrophe’
Meanwhile, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has expressed deep concern over the humanitarian situation in Yemen.
Peter Maurer said Wednesday that poverty, war and limits on imports have put Yemen in catastrophic conditions.
Maurer, who was speaking to the Associated Press after a visit to the war-torn country, said, Yemen after less than five months of war, looks like Syria after some five years of violence.
He added that civilians in other war-torn countries in the Middle East are better off as they are wealthier than the Yemenis.
The reports of deteriorating humanitarian condition in Yemen come amid Saudi Arabia’s tight siege of Yemen. Aid groups had already complained that the air, sea and naval blockade has prevented relief supplies from entering Yemen.