UN agencies warn of ‘food emergency’ in Yemen
Two agencies of the United Nations (UN) have warned of acute food shortages and a hunger crisis amounting to an “emergency” in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been waging a deadly war for some 15 months.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme, in a report published on Tuesday, announced that food insecurity in Yemen has intensified significantly over the past year, and three million Yemeni children are currently at risk of malnutrition.
“At least seven million people — a quarter of the population — are living under emergency levels of food insecurity,” the UN agencies said in a statement.
“This reflects a 15-percent increase since June 2015. A further 7.1 million people are in a state of crisis,” they added.
Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said, “This clearly shows the huge magnitude of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.”
“This is one of the worst crises in the world and is continuing to get worse,” he said.
In a separate development, more than a dozen civilians have lost their lives in a new Saudi airstrike against Yemen’s southwestern province of Lahij.
Saudi jets attacked a residential neighborhood in the al-Ka’abin district of the province, killing 15 people, Yemen’s al-Masirah reported.
Saudi warplanes also carried out a number of sorties over the mountainous northwestern province of Sa’ada, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.
Separately, Saudi-sponsored Yemeni militiamen loyal to former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi launched missiles against the positions of Houthi Ansarullah fighters in the Nihm district of Sana’a Province as well as al-Wazi’iyah district in the southwestern province of Ta’izz, though no casualties were reported.
Ansarullah fighters also established control over the strategic al-Jales hilltop surrounding the al-Qabbaytah district of the Lahij Province on Tuesday after two weeks of fighting with pro-Saudi militia forces.
Also on Tuesday, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed appealed to Yemen’s warring sides to conclude a peace deal as soon as possible, proposing a road-map to end the Saudi Arabian onslaught in the conflict-hit country.
“Both sides have demonstrated over the past weeks a true commitment to make peace, and a political wisdom in negotiations, which did not shy away from broaching sensitive and complicated issues,” Cheikh Ahmed said.
“I am reassured by the commitment of the two delegations, but I am appealing to them to finalize these difficult negotiations and reach a comprehensive settlement as soon as possible,” he said.
Delegations of the Saudi-backed former regime and Yemen’s Ansarullah movement have been engaged in talks in Kuwait for a peaceful solution to the conflict.
Saudi Arabia launched its military aggression against Yemen on March 26, 2015, in a bid to bring Hadi — who is a staunch ally of Riyadh — back to power and defeat the Ansarullah movement.
More than 9,400 people have been killed and at least 16,000 others injured since the onset of the aggression.
The Saudi strikes have also taken a heavy toll on the country’s facilities and infrastructure, driving 2.8 million people from their homes.
More than 80 percent of the population is in dire need of food, water and other humanitarian aid, according to the UN.