Food aid to Yemen to be cut due to lack of funds: WFP

WION Web Team
Sanaa, Yemen Updated: Dec 22, 2021, 03:14 PM IST
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Famine Photograph:(AFP)

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As a result of the fighting, tens of thousands of Yemenis have died, millions have been displaced and about 80 per cent are dependent on aid

Due to a lack of funds, the World Food Programme has cut aid to Yemen and warned of an increase in hunger in the war-torn country.  

"From January, 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," the United Nations agency said in a statement, adding that it was "running out of funds".  

Since 2014, Yemen has been ravaged by a civil war between a government-backed by Saudi Arabia and Houthi rebels backed by Iran. Millions of civilians are facing famine.

As a result of the fighting, tens of thousands of Yemenis have died, millions have been displaced and about 80 per cent are dependent on aid.

"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," said WFP Middle East and North Africa director Corinne Fleischer, according to the statement. 

"But desperate times call for desperate measures and we have to stretch our limited resources and prioritise, focusing on people who are in the most critical state."

According to WFP, it needs $813 million to help the most vulnerable in Yemen through May, and $1.97 billion during 2022 to keep feeding families on the verge of famine.

Following a donor conference that yielded less than half of the funds needed to prevent famine, the UN warned of a "death sentence" for Yemen in March.

The organisation had pleaded for $3.85 billion to pay for urgently needed aid, but only $1.7 billion was pledged at a virtual pledging conference co-hosted by Sweden and Switzerland. 

Last year, reduced humanitarian budgets forced the closure of many programmes, such as health services and food distribution. This added hardship to a country the UN has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis. 

Almost half of Yemen's 30 million residents, or more than 16 million people, will suffer from hunger this year, according to the latest UN figures. Over 50,000 people are already starving to death in famine-like conditions.

Following airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition supporting the government, UN aid flights have been halted into Yemen's rebel-held capital of Sanaa. 

Saudi Arabia has largely halted flights into Sanaa airport since August 2016, but there have been exceptions for aid flights that are essential to the population. 

Watch | The humanitarian situation worsens in Yemen

"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."

(With inputs from agencies)