ROME – The United Nations World Food Programme has started a partial suspension of food assistance operations in areas of Yemen under the control of the Sana’a-based authorities. The decision was taken as a last resort after lengthy negotiations stalled on an agreement to introduce controls to prevent the diversion of food away from some of the most vulnerable people in Yemen.
WFP’s priority remains to feed the hungriest children, women and men of Yemen. But as in any conflict zone, some individuals seek to profit by preying on the vulnerable and diverting food away from where it is most needed. WFP has been seeking the support of the Sana’a-based authorities to introduce a biometric registration system that would prevent diversion and protect the Yemeni families we serve, ensuring food reaches those who need it most.
Unfortunately, we are yet to reach agreement. The integrity of our operation is under threat and our accountability to those we help has been undermined. WFP has repeatedly appealed to the Sana’a-based authorities to grant us the space and freedom to operate according to the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and operational independence, which guide our work in 83 countries around the world.
Too many Yemenis have suffered for too long during this ongoing conflict. We will continue to seek cooperation from the Sana’a-based authorities and we remain optimistic that a way forward can be found. We are ready to immediately resume food distributions once we reach agreement on an independent beneficiary identification exercise and the roll out of a biometric registration system.
At this stage, with the support of the entire United Nations system, we are suspending in Sana’a city only, affecting 850,000 people. WFP will maintain nutrition programmes for malnourished children, pregnant and nursing mothers throughout the period of suspension.
The United Nations World Food Programme - saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.