Article by: Stefano Gelmini, Photo: Bikya Masr, March 2012
Ongoing conflict and mounting insecurity are precipitating an already severe food crisis in Yemen, pushing the country closer to a full-blown humanitarian disaster. The International Rescue Committee has deployed an emergency team to Yemen to assess needs and identify where and how best to assist communities hit by the crisis.
Approximately five million people are in need of emergency food aid, including an estimated 800,000 children who are suffering from acute malnutrition, according to the UN. One in four families have been plunged into debt as they try to feed themselves in the face of ever-rising food prices.
Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, has struggled with food insecurity and unrest for years. But the year-long uprising that toppled former President Saleh, coupled with the government’s ongoing fight against secessionist movements and Al-Qaida-linked militants, has played havoc with the country’s economy, cutting off supplies, forcing businesses to close and restricting food access for millions of people. As result, food insecurity levels have doubled in the past two years.
The conflicts in both the north and the south of the country have also forced about half a million people to flee their homes. In Abyan, more than 200,000 have been displaced over the past nine months and more than 350 people are believed to have died this month alone, since the military launched its offensive against militants operating in the area.
In May, the UK government announced a new aid package to help people displaced in the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and called on the international community to do more.
With the humanitarian situation set to worsen rapidly, the IRC’s emergency team is carrying out a needs assessment that will help shape our response to the crisis. In the short term, the IRC is considering health programmes, including nutrition, clean water and sanitation services, and economic recovery and development activities, including cash transfers to help hungry families purchase food.
To find out more about the work of the IRC's emergency team see here.