Yemen

WFP races to assist thousands displaced in Yemen

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Sanaa - The United Nations World Food Programme will start tomorrow to distribute food assistance to some 20,000 people displaced by heavy fighting around the governorate of Saada in north-western Yemen. The distribution is part of WFP's two-month operation, launched last week and budgeted at US$443,000.

"Many of the displaced fled their homes with only what they could carry and they are now living with families and friends in remote locations outside Saada. We are anxious to reach all of them with assistance as soon as possible," said Mohamed El Kouhene, WFP's Country Director in Yemen.

According to an initial UN-inter agency assessment mission, fighting has displaced an estimated 20,000 people but the figure could rise once security constraints are lifted and there is total access to the area.

Tomorrow's distribution will start with 2,000 beneficiaries in the camps for internally displaced people (IDP) in Saada, who have been prioritized. Those living with host families are being given ration cards in preparation for further distributions later in the week.

The Yemeni Government is supporting the operation by providing warehouses to store WFP stocks. "The Government has responded to this emergency constructively; we appreciate the Government's excellent support at this very difficult time," added El Kouhene.

"We are very thankful for WFP's rapid response to this emergency situation, which we hope will soon be resolved," said Abdulkarim Al-Arhabi, Yemen's Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs and Minister of Planning and International Cooperation.

Besides this two month operation, the UN agency has a new five-year country programme (2007-2011) for one million Yemenis - budgeted at US$48 million - focusing on expanding girls' access to education and improving the health and nutritional status of malnourished children under five, pregnant and lactating women and tuberculosis and leprosy patients. To date, the programme has received nearly US$5 million.

WFP also supplies food to over 33,000 Somali refugees in transit centres and in the Kharaz Refugee camp located in the province of Lahj.

WFP has provided US$300 million of food assistance to Yemen since 1967, when the country was split into the Yemen Arab Republic and the South People's Democratic Republic of Yemen.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: each year, we give food to an average of 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 58 million hungry children, in at least 80 of the world's poorest countries. WFP -- We Feed People.

WFP now provides RSS feeds to help journalists keep up with the latest press releases, videos and photos as they are published on WFP.org. For more details see: http://www.wfp.org/english/?n=999.

WFP now has a dedicated ISDN line in Italy for quality two-way interviews with WFP officials.

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

Leen Al-Mugahed, WFP/Sana'a, Tel. + 967-1-214100 ext 2228, Mob. +967-733032326

Khaled Mansour, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +20-2-5281730, Mob. +20-122348671

Mia Turner, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +20-2-5281730, Mob. +20-122455769

Brenda Barton, Deputy Director of Communications, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39-06-65132602, Cell. +39-3472582217 (ISDN line available)

Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Cell. +44-7968-008474

Christiane Berthiaume, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41-22-9178564, Cell. +41-792857304

Cécile Sportis, WFP/Paris, Tel. +33-1-70385330, Cell. +33-6161-68266

Jennifer Parmelee, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1-202-6530010 ext. 1149, Mob. +1-202-4223383

Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-212-9635196, Cell. +1-646-8241112, luescher@un.org