Senior UN official pleads for access to Yemeni city of Taiz to avert humanitarian tragedy

WHO is continuing to deliver water to people in Taiz City, Yemen. Photo: WHO Yemen

29 October 2015 – The World Food Programme (WFP) today pleaded for the “‘safe and immediate access” to Taiz, where food aid last reached the besieged city in southern Yemen five weeks ago, warning that “if this situation continues the damage from hunger will be irreversible.”

“We plead for safe and immediate access to the city of Taiz to prevent a humanitarian tragedy as supplies dwindle, threatening the lives of thousands – including women, children and the elderly,” said Muhannad Hadi, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) condemned this week’s bombing of the Médecins Sans Frontières supported hospital in Sa’ada province in northern Yemen.

Saying the bombing will leave 200,000 people with no access to lifesaving medical care, WHO said the attack violated humanitarian law and urged all parties in the conflict to respect the safety and neutrality of health workers and health facilities.

In southern Yemen, WFP reported that the recent deterioration in security in Taiz has had a severe impact on food and fuel availability and prices. Taiz and nine other of Yemen’s 22 governorates have been classified as facing food insecurity at ‘emergency’ level – one step below famine on a five-point international scale.

Food assistance last reached Taiz more than five weeks ago through WFP’s local partner, which distributed food assistance to nearly 240,000 conflict-affected people in the city, the agency said.

WFP has overcome extreme challenges to reach 1 million vulnerable people in Yemen on average every month since the conflict started this year. In September and October, WFP expanded its reach, providing food assistance to over 2 million people each month.

Violence since late March has exacerbated Yemen’s already poor food security, adding more than 3 million people to the ranks of the severely hungry in less than a year. According to recent estimates, 7.6 million people are severely food insecure, a level of need requiring urgent external food assistance.


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