SANA’A (Yemen) – WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos concluded their visit to Yemen on Thursday with an appeal for greater support, especially from the Gulf region, for humanitarian relief efforts in the country.
More than 10 million people in Yemen – almost half the country’s population – are either hungry or on the edge of hunger with very high rates of food insecurity. Child malnutrition rates are among the highest in the world with close to half of Yemen’s children under 5 years – around two million children – stunted.
“WFP is providing life-saving food assistance to almost 5 million Yemenis to break the intergenerational cycle of hunger,” said Cousin, “We will continue this vital food assistance by improving food security and nutrition but at the same time helping build resilience of these communities.”
Yemen faces multiple crises
Yemen faces multiple humanitarian crises. Out of a population of 24 million, over half need some form of humanitarian aid. More than half of the population does not have access to clean water and proper sanitation, and one million children suffer from acute malnutrition.
In the south, many returnees in Abyan cannot farm because the land is contaminated with landmines. In the north, 300,000 Yemenis remain displaced. There are also 238,000 refugee seekers, stranded migrants and returnees from Saudi Arabia. Children continue to be recruited and used by armed groups while women and girls are vulnerable to gender-based violence.
“Yemen is a country wracked by chronic poverty and underdevelopment, and millions of Yemenis are struggling to cope,” said Amos. “People need food, water, education and health care. But they also want to know that there is investment to secure their future. We urgently need more funding to help those in need.”
Vital donor support
While in Yemen, Cousin and Amos travelled to Hudeidah where they saw first-hand efforts to combat malnutrition and food insecurity. They then visited nutrition and health care clinics supported by WFP and UNICEF, a WFP food distribution, and saw the offloading of WFP food supplies at the Hudeidah Port.
They also visited the Al Mazraq camp in Harad, where people displaced by the conflict in Sa’ada still live, and visited a centre where stranded migrants from the Horn of Africa receive assistance from the International Organization for Migration.
“We are working to ensure families themselves are able to take care of their food needs through food for work, food for training and other income generating activities,” said Cousin. “We count on the support of our donors and the strong partnership with the Government of Yemen to help communities free themselves from the cycle of hunger.”