For the second time this year, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has managed to deliver food inside an area undergoing heavy fighting in the central Yemeni city of Taiz, where residents are in desperate need of external food assistance.
On Saturday, a food convoy entered the area of Al Qahira carrying food for 18,000 people, the agency said in a press release. The food includes 3,000 family rations of vegetable oil, wheat, pulses and sugar – enough for a family of six for one month.
The delivery coincided with a mission to Taiz city, where WFP's Representative and Country Director in Yemen, Purnima Kashyap, met with local officials and witnessed the arrival of humanitarian assistance.
“It makes a big difference for a family living in a hard-to-reach area to know that we will come again; that this is not a one-off delivery and that they can depend on us,” said Ms. Kashyap. “We continue to overcome access and security issues in Yemen. It is vital that WFP has regular and safe access to be able to deliver food to families before they fall deeper into hunger.”
WFP has been delivering food assistance to parts of Taiz city since December 2015, but with the fighting, it has been difficult to move food to all districts of the city. On 21 January, the agency reached Al Qahira and Al Mudaffar districts, distributing food to 3,000 families.
Taiz is one of 10 governorates – out of Yemen's 22 governorates – in the grip of severe food insecurity at 'emergency' level – one step below famine on the five-point Integrated Food Security Phase Classification scale. At least one in five households in the area does not have enough food to lead a healthy life, and many face life-threatening rates of acute malnutrition.
The conflict has worsened Yemen's already poor food security situation, adding more than 3 million people to the ranks of the hungry in less than a year. According to the UN's 2016 Humanitarian Needs Overview, 7.6 million people in the country are severely food insecure – a level of need that urgently requires external food assistance.