Brussels, 21 May 2012 - The European Commission is boosting its humanitarian aid to Yemen by €5 million in response to a rapidly developing food crisis.
Malnutrition rates in some parts of Yemen are among the highest in the world. The crisis is made more complex by the deterioration of the economic situation, the recent increase in population displacements and the arrival of new refugees from the Horn of Africa.
"The crisis in Yemen has gone from bad to desperate," said Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for Humanitarian aid and Crisis response. "44% of the population are surviving on meagre food rations. We are increasing our aid not just because we must prevent malnutrition from rising further but also because hunger and suffering can only destabilise the fragile on-going transition. Yemeni people desperately need the international support to rebuild their lives and their country. We cannot fail them. Ignoring this would bear tremendous risks for the region and the world"
On 23 May Commissioner Georgieva will attend the Friends of Yemen meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where she will join international leaders to chart a path out of poverty.
The new funds will increase and improve access to clean water, support feeding programmes, develop cash-for-work schemes and provide cash grants for 200,000 people.
The European Commission has already mobilised €20 million in humanitarian aid in Yemen this year. It funds health care and shelter projects, invests in the management of refugee camps and provides basic household items to displaced Yemenis and refugees from the Horn of Africa.
The Commission's humanitarian experts will continue to closely monitor the situation as it develops in Yemen.
Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab Peninsula. Over 43% of the population lives below the poverty line on less than €2 a day. It has the world's third highest rate of malnutrition.
Poverty combined with conflict, drought, refugee flows and rising food prices, has aggravated an already deep humanitarian crisis during the last year.
Since 2004 an armed conflict in the North has seen six major cycles of fighting and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. More than 300,000 have not yet been able to return to their homes. Those who have gone home now struggle with slow reconstruction and a lack of even the most basic services. The conflict has also had a severe impact on the livelihoods of a million people living close to the former fighting zones.
Flight from fighting has also displaced over 200,000 people in the South who are unable to return to their homes and have no employment prospects.
Yemen is also directly affected by the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa. Over 250,000 refugees, mainly from Somalia and Ethiopia, are stranded in the country and live in precarious conditions either in Kharaz, the only camp for refugees, or in poor urban areas.
But it is very difficult to bring aid to those who need it in Yemen: a worsening security situation means that aid workers struggle to reach many areas. This leaves large numbers of displaced people isolated from essential humanitarian aid.
The European Commission maintains its long-term commitment to helping alleviate Yemen's acute humanitarian needs. Since 1994 it has provided more than €53 million in vital assistance
For more information: Commissioner Georgieva's website:
The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection:
Contacts : David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09) Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)