The United Nations emergency relief co-ordinator, Valerie Amos, and the executive director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, have called for increased humanitarian support in Yemen – especially from Gulf countries.
The two UN officials acknowledged the positive political developments in the country, led by its leaders and supported by the Gulf Cooperation Council, but noted that the humanitarian situation in Yemen remains critical.
“Yemen is a country wracked by chronic poverty and underdevelopment, and millions of Yemenis are struggling to cope,” says Amos. “People need food, water, education and healthcare. But they also want to know that there is investment to secure their future. We urgently need more funding to help those in need.”
Out of its population of 24 million, more than half need some form of humanitarian aid. Approximately ten million people in the country are hungry, with very high rates of food insecurity. Child malnutrition rates are among the highest in the world leaving close to half of Yemen’s children under five years with stunted growth – approximately two million. This year, the WFP aims to provide almost five million people in 16 governorates with food assistance and is working to build community resilience.
“The WFP is providing life-saving food assistance to approximately five million Yemenis to break the intergenerational cycle of hunger,” says Cousin.
“We will continue this vital food assistance by improving food security and nutrition, but at the same time help build resilience of these communities. We are working to ensure that families are able to take care of their food needs through ‘food for work’, ‘food for training’ and other income generating activities. 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,” she adds.
The two UN officials met with senior government officials, including president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, prime minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa and foreign minister Abu Baker Al-Qerbi, to discuss humanitarian needs and the challenges facing the country. They also met non-governmental organisations, women leaders, humanitarian partners and representatives of the donor communities.
On September 12, Amos and Cousin travelled to Hodeidah where they saw first-hand efforts to combat malnutrition and food insecurity. They visited nutrition and healthcare clinics supported by the WFP and UNICEF, and saw the offloading of the WFP food supplies at the Hodeidah Port.
They also visited the Al Mazraq camp in Harad – where people displaced by the conflict in Saada live – and visited a centre where stranded migrants from the Horn of Africa receive assistance from the International Organization for Migration.
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.
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