Middle East

Yemen: UN reduces food aid over lack of funds

The United Nations’ food agency on Wednesday announced that it was “running out of funds” to provide much-needed assistance to people in Yemen.

“From January, 8 million will receive a reduced food ration, while 5 million at immediate risk of slipping into famine conditions will remain on a full ration,” the World Food Program (WFP) said in a statement.

Yemen has been plunged into hunger by seven years of war.

In March, a virtual conference held by the UN fell short of its aid goal for Yemen. Over 100 governments and donors had hoped to raise a targeted $3.85 billion (€3.41 billion). But only $1.7 billion was pledged.

A worker prepares food aid provided by the World Food ProgramMillions of people in Yemen rely on aid

What did the WFP say?

Starting January, the families receiving the reduced aid “will receive barely half of WFP’s daily minimum ration,” the agency said.

The WFP warned that further “severe reductions will soon be unavoidable” if it doesn’t receive more funding.

The agency said that the decision comes at “the worst possible time for families in Yemen.” It noted that inadequate food consumption in the war-torn country was on the rise — affecting half of all families — due to a dire economic situation.

“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 Corinne Fleischer, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“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.”

The WFP said that it needs $1.97 billion during 2022 to continue to deliver food assistance to families on the brink of famine.

What is the situation in Yemen?

Since 2014, Yemen has been devastated by a civil war between the Saudi-backed government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

The war in Yemen has killed at least 130,000 people, including over 12,000 civilians. The conflict has triggered what the UN describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in the region’s most impoverished nation.

Millions of civilians in Yemen are on the brink of famine, and millions have been forcibly displaced.

Shrinking humanitarian funding last year forced the closure of several aid programs, including health services and food distribution.

After March’s conference raised less than half of what was targeted, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned: “Cutting aid is a death sentence.”

fb/rt (AFP, Reuters)

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