Yemen: amid continuing instability, UN food agency urges increased humanitarian support
“Even before this crisis, more than forty per cent of Yemenis were food insecure, five million of them severely food insecure. And the current upheavals are certain to hit the poorest and most vulnerable hardest.”
Despite the formation of a new Government in November 2014 aimed at ending a period of political turbulence and bringing about a full transition towards democracy, Yemen continues to be plagued by violence and mass political demonstrations.
In recent weeks, the Secretary-General has voiced serious concern about developments following the abduction by the opposition group Ansarallah of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's chief of staff and the resignation of the President and Prime Minister amid a takeover of the capital, Sana'a by Houthi militants. This followed a steady deterioration since the beginning of the year as Government forces clashed with militant groups throughout the capital.
In his briefing to the Council last week, the UN chief also warned that “widespread and lethal” attacks by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and escalating hostilities between AQAP and the Houthis have pushed the country to the edge of civil war. These developments, coupled with a burgeoning humanitarian crisis which has enveloped an “astounding” 61 per cent of the population, now threaten regional and international peace and security, Mr. Ban added.
UN Special Adviser Benomar, who has continued to facilitate negotiations with all national stakeholders despite very difficult operational circumstances, also at that briefing, cautioned the Council that Yemen stood at a “crossroads.”
Against that backdrop, WFP noted that its current operations include providing critical food assistance to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) in conflict-affected areas, safety-net and livelihood support for vulnerable and poor families in rural areas, and the prevention and treatment of malnutrition among pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children.
As a result, the UN agency hopes to reach some 6 million people throughout the country during the current 2014 to 2016 biennium but, it added, it would require an additional $146 million in funding to support its main relief and recovery operation over the next 12 months.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that some 61 per cent of the population in Yemen is in need humanitarian assistance – that is almost 16 million Yemenis who desperately need food, clean water and sanitation. In addition, some10.6 million people face food insecurity.
Ms. Kashyap appealed to donors to continue their support for WFP Yemen and called on neighbouring countries to provide funding “in the interests of regional stability.”
“We are very concerned about how people are managing to cope with the latest upheaval. They are likely to be eating less and not as frequently, which can only lead to increased food insecurity and a greater likelihood of malnutrition,” she continued. “In such circumstances, humanitarian assistance needs to be stepped up, rather than down.”