UN officials call for support to provide food assistance to 10 million Yemenis at risk of hunger

From left: WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos speak to the press during their visit to Hudeidah, Yemen. Photo: OCHA/Eman al Awami

12 September 2013 – Two senior United Nations officials today urged the international community to scale up its financial support for chronically food-insecure Yemen, where 10 million people are in need of assistance.

“Yemen is a country wracked by chronic poverty and underdevelopment, and millions of Yemenis are struggling to cope,” said Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie 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.”

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 old – around 2 million children – suffering from stunting.

Following a visit to the country, Ms. Amos and the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, called on countries, particularly those in the Gulf region, to step up humanitarian efforts in Yemen.

This year, WFP aims to provide almost 5 million people in 16 governorates with food assistance and is working to build community resilience.

“WFP is providing life-saving food assistance to almost 5 million Yemenis to break the intergenerational cycle of hunger,” said Ms. 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. 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.

“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.”

During their visit, Ms. Amos and Ms. Cousin met senior Government officials, to discuss humanitarian needs and the challenges facing the country. They also met non-governmental organizations, women leaders, humanitarian partners, and representatives of the donor community.

In addition, they travelled to the city of Hudeidah, where they saw first-hand efforts to combat malnutrition and food insecurity. They visited nutrition and health care clinics supported by WFP and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 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.

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.


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