Yemen: On the edge of a humanitarian crisis

Monday, July 30, 2012

Nearly 10 million people facing hunger
crisis and the number has increased to double
in just last two years.
Sana‘a : Though for some years concerns has grown up over Yemen’s food security situation but far from an improvement, the last two years have brought a sweeping decline in food security , a World Food Program (WFM) report has revealed.

According to report, Yemen is facing an increasingly complex and deteriorating humanitarian situation that is leaving many families in a hunger trap and absolute poverty. The report focuses the miserable plight as says that number of severely food insecure people has doubled and today nearly half of all Yemeni people do not have enough to eat. Millions regularly go to bed hungry, having skipped meals and, in far too many cases, having gone the whole day without eating.

The World Food Program (WFP) estimates that nearly ten million Yemenis are “food insecure.” They fall into two categories - five million are classified as “severely food insecure,” that is, those who are unable to buy or grow food themselves, and another five million who are “moderately food insecure,” that is, they are at risk of going without food due to rising food prices and the ongoing civil conflict. Combined, they account for 44.5 percent of Yemen’s population of close to 25 million.

Exacerbated by political and civil unrest since January 2011, new shocks to the already critically food insecure country have put more than half of the country’s population of 24 million at risk. Soaring food and fuel prices and the breakdown of social services have meant that the thousands of people who were on the brink of food insecurity and malnutrition before 2011 have now been pushed into more critical circumstances, widening the hunger gap.

In mid-2011, the conflict escalated in the southern governorate of Abyan, which led to the displacement of over 100,000 persons to Aden. In addition, over 400,000 internally displaced persons and war-affected individuals in Yemen’s northern region continue to be in dire need of emergency assistance. Today, 22 percent of the population requires external food assistance, nearly double the number in 2009.

With almost five million people unable to produce or buy sufficient nutritious food the situation is critical.  More than half of Yemen's children are chronically malnourished and one out of ten does not live to reach the age of five. Such emergency levels of chronic malnutrition are second globally only to Afghanistan; the proportion of underweight children is the third highest in the world after India and Bangladesh.

Besides civil unrest, a variety of internal and external factors are putting further strain on Yemen’s limited resources. In addition to the food, fuel and financial crises that have led to an increase in poverty to an estimated 43 percent, the 6-year conflict in north-western Sa’ada governorate has displaced some 350,000 people and affected many more. In addition, thousands of refugees continue to cross the Gulf of Aden from the Horn of Africa each year. The dire situation is further compounded by climate change, water scarcity, general insecurity and limited access to basic services.
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