SANA’A, YEMEN – The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ms. Valerie Amos, and the Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), Ms. Ertharin Cousin, wrapped up a visit to Yemen by calling for increased support, especially from the Gulf region, for humanitarian relief efforts in the country.
Speaking at the end of their joint visit, 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,” 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 – around two million children – stunted. 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 Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme. “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.”
The two UN officials met 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 organizations, women leaders, humanitarian partners, and representatives of the donor community.
On 12 September, Ms. Amos and Ms. Cousin travelled to Hudeidah where they saw first-hand efforts to combat malnutrition and food insecurity. They visited nutrition and health care clinics supported by WFP and UNICEF, a WFP food distribution, 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. 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.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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