Unprecedented Food Crisis Puts Yemen on Brink

The current level of hunger in Yemen is unprecedented and is causing severe hardship for millions of people. Despite ongoing humanitarian assistance, 17.4 million Yemenis are food insecure. The number of food insecure people is projected to go up to 19 million by December 2022.

The rate of child malnutrition is one of the highest in the world and the nutrition situation continues to deteriorate. A recent survey showed that almost one third of families have gaps in their diets, and hardly ever consume foods like pulses, vegetables, fruit, dairy products or meat. Malnutrition rates among women and children in Yemen remain among the highest in the world, with 1.3 million pregnant or breastfeeding women and 2.2 million children under 5 requiring treatment for acute malnutrition.

The humanitarian situation in Yemen is extremely fragile and any disruption in the pipeline of critical supplies such as food, fuel and medicines has the potential to bring millions of people closer to starvation and death.

War always has a devastating effect on countries’ economies, and Yemen is no exception. The protracted conflict has had a devastating impact on civilians across the country. Civilians suffer from destroyed critical infrastructure, lack of fuel, lack of basic services, abusive local security forces, a weak state, and fragmented governance.

Yemen’s economy has been ravaged by years of conflict. Millions of people in Yemen have lost their income due to business closures and some working in the public sector have not received their full salaries regularly, leading to increased poverty. Millions of civilians in Yemen depend on humanitarian aid.

 The country is experiencing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with some 20.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, including some 13 million children.

Yemen’s population is struggling more than ever to secure basic food as the humanitarian consequences of the conflict worsen, with some 19 million Yemenis suffering from food insecurity, equivalent to more than 61 % of the total population. The statistics of the World Food Program indicate that the number of people in need of assistance has reached about 20.7 million (about 66% of the total population), with about 1.3 million pregnant or breastfeeding women and 2.2 million children under 5 need treatment for acute malnutrition.

Acute malnutrition

The World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) confirm that 2.3 million children under the age of five in Yemen will suffer from “acute” malnutrition this year, of which 400,000 will suffer from “severe acute malnutrition”.

Therefore, families who have lost their sources of income, reduced their daily meals and livelihood options and expanded their debt to provide for their commodity needs, have become hungry while many of them have been dependent on humanitarian relief assistance, which in turn has declined significantly since the beginning of this year.

Calls for action

Urgent support to cover Yemen’s urgent financing needs is critical in order to address the fallout from the Russian-Ukrainian war and prevent the further deterioration of food insecurity and acute malnutrition this year due to the rise in the prices of energy products and the rise in the prices of basic food commodities that exacerbate the situation in the country. According to observers, these developments are extremely dangerous, especially with the entrenched expectations of high inflation, and this requires serious attention to food security in the short and medium term.

Global Rights Watch calls on the international community to take action to stop the “acute” malnutrition among Yemen’s children, as well as tackling famine in the war-torn country.

Urgent humanitarian intervention is needed in Yemen, as humanitarian interventions in Ukraine should not affect donor countries’ fulfilment of their commitments to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

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