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UN seeks $4.3 billion to feed Yemen

Yemen map outline

UN seeks $4.3 billion to feed Yemen, where over 9 million people will be starving if funds are not found quickly. After 7 years, Yemen is still a chronic emergency. As countries quickly mobilise to respond to the deepening crisis in Ukraine, UN leaders are urging them to not forget about the ongoing crises in places like Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Yemen.

Yemen is living in a chronic state of emergency, marked by hunger, disease and other miseries that are rising faster than aid agencies can reverse, UN relief chief Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on Tuesday, as the Special Envoy for the country called for joint efforts by Yemenis and the international community to break the entrenched cycle of violence.

Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr. Griffiths, cited grave risks for inertia and fatigue in worsening the severe conditions in Yemen, as the war, a result of Arab spring, leads into its 7th year.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has now provoked new shocks and international outrage, wiping Yemen out from public memory.

We must not give in to those forces,” he insisted.  He drew attention to Wednesday’s high-level pledging event to alleviate the suffering of the traumatized Yemeni people, with aid agencies seeking nearly $4.3 billion to help 17 million in 2022 alone.

UN seeks $4.3 billion
© UNICEF/Ahmed Al-Basha
Three sisters walk to their school close to a fighting zone in Taizz, Yemen, February 2021.

New estimates confirm that over 23 million people now need assistance.  Among them are 19 million people who will go hungry in the coming months – an increase of almost 20 per cent from 2021 – while more than 160,000 of them will face famine-like conditions.  

Yemen relies on commercial imports for 90 per cent of its food and nearly all its fuel.One third of its wheat comes from Russia and Ukraine, where the conflict sparked on 24 February will push food prices higher. Food prices doubled last year due to the pandemic.

“We are looking at a seismic hunger crisis if we do not step up now,” World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasely stressed.

Without immediate funds, hungry people will lose assistance. 

Funding for Yemen has never reached this point,” he warned.  “We have no choice but to take food from the hungry to feed the starving.”

WFP was forced to reduce food rations for eight million people at the beginning of the year due to a shortage of funds, Mr. Beasley said.  For now, five million people who are at immediate risk of slipping into famine conditions have continued to receive a full food ration.

WFP is currently only 11 percent funded and needs more than $887.9 million to provide food assistance for 13 million people over the coming six months.

Mr. Griffiths said more than 75 per cent of the $14 billion generated by United Nations appeals has come from six donors – the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Germany and the European Commission, these funds starve off mass famine.

If we have one message for the world today, it is this:  do not stop now,” he emphasized.  Member States must demonstrate that “out of the headlines does not mean left behind”.

Detailing the violence, Yemen Special Envoy Hans Grundberg, said that over the last month, artillery shelling in Taiz again inflicted civilian casualties and damage to residential buildings, while hostilities have been reported in Sa’dah and Al Dali’ governorates. 

Air strikes continue, primarily on frontlines in Marib and Hajjah, he said.  The UN Mission to Support the Hudaydah Agreement (UNMHA) meanwhile is working to rebuild communication between the parties, re-establish avenues for de-escalation and enhance monitoring of the ports.

Through the ebbs and flows of the conflict, the fact remains that a military approach is not going to produce a sustainable solution,” he said.

Mr. Grundberg said he is exploring options with the parties for immediate de-escalation measures that could reduce violence, ease the fuel crisis and improve freedom of movement.

He also updated on the series of structured consultations launched in February, encouraged by the engagement from Yemeni political parties, components, experts and civil society representatives, and describing as “very constructive” his recent discussion with Yemen President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.