Hunger rises in Yemen as WFP forced to cut assistance, warns of impact
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned that it is running out of funds to continue to provide food assistance to 13 million people in Yemen. From January 2022, eight million will receive a reduced food ration, while five million at immediate risk of slipping into famine conditions will remain on a full ration. In 2021, 2.9 million people received reduced food assistance, while eight million were provided with full rations.
The reductions come at the worst possible time for families in Yemen who are dependent on food assistance to survive. In the last three months, inadequate food consumption – one measure of hunger tracked by WFP – has risen rapidly to affect half of all families as currency devaluation and hyperinflation drive the economy to near collapse. Food prices have more than doubled across much of Yemen in 2021. Meanwhile, fighting across multiple frontlines continues to force families to flee.
“Every time we reduce the amount of food, we know that more people who are already hungry and food insecure will join the ranks of the millions who are starving. But desperate times call for desperate measures and we have to stretch our limited resources and prioritize, focusing on people who are in the most critical state,” said Corinne Fleischer, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
With food assistance reductions from January, families will receive barely half of their minimum daily food needs. Without new funding, more severe reductions will soon be unavoidable. This could see people cut from food assistance programmes completely. Malnutrition treatment and school feeding for children may also be reduced.
“The Yemeni people are now more vulnerable than ever, reeling from relentless conflict and the deepening economic crisis that has pushed millions into destitution,” said Fleischer. “WFP food stocks in Yemen are running dangerously low at a time when budgets for humanitarian crises around the world are stretched to the limit. We desperately need donors, who were so generous in the past, to work with us to avoid this looming hunger catastrophe.”
Over half the population of Yemen or 16.2 million people face acute hunger. Half the children under five (2.3 million) are at risk of malnutrition. WFP needs US$813 million to continue to assist the most vulnerable in Yemen through May. In 2022, WFP needs US$1.97 billion to continue to deliver vital food assistance to families on the brink of famine. Aid agencies are currently conducting countrywide needs assessments to understand the most pressing humanitarian needs in Yemen and the results will provide valuable information for strategic level decision-making, including funding requirements for the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan.