UN: Yemen facing acute hunger at unprecedented levels
By Vatican News staff reporter
As the world focuses its attention on the terrible situation facing millions of people in Ukraine, far away, another country is on the brink of an outright catastrophe.
Acute hunger in Yemen
A joint statement released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UN World Food Programme (WFP), and UNICEF warns millions of people in Yemen are facing acute hunger at unprecedented levels as funding dries up.
A new report released on Tuesday, entitled Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) analysis on Yemen, shows that 17.4 million people are now in need of food assistance and a growing portion of the population is coping with emergency levels of hunger.
The findings also reveal that “1.6 million people in the country are expected to fall into emergency levels of hunger, taking the total to 7.3 million people by the end of the year.”
The IPC report emphasizes that across Yemen 2.2 million children and around 1.3 million pregnant or nursing mothers are acutely malnourished.
Food prices and imports
The three UN agencies point out, “Conflict remains the primary underlying driver of hunger in Yemen.”
An economic crisis has been a by-product of this conflict, leading to a huge hike in food prices.
According to the statement, the Ukraine war is also affecting imports, further driving up food prices. “Yemen depends almost entirely on food imports with 30 percent of its wheat imports coming from Ukraine,” it says.
Action needed now
Resident Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, David Gressly stresses that in light of the IPC report, action needs to be taken now to halt the deterioration of food security.
“Peace is required to end the decline, but we can make progress now. The parties to the conflict should lift all restrictions on trade and investment for non-sanctioned commodities. This will help lower food prices and unleash the economy, giving people the dignity of a job and a path to move away from reliance on aid,” he adds.
It’s a call echoed by WFP Executive Director David Beasley, who says, “These harrowing figures confirm that we are on a countdown to catastrophe in Yemen and we are almost out of time to avoid it. Unless we receive substantial new funding immediately, mass starvation and famine will follow. But if we act now, there is still a chance to avert imminent disaster and save millions.”
WFP was forced to reduce food rations for eight million people at the beginning of the year due to a shortage of funding. With these reductions, households are receiving barely half of the WFP standard daily minimum food basket. Five million people who are at immediate risk of slipping into famine conditions have continued to receive a full food ration.