Oxfam and Islamic Relief today (14 December 2011) raised the alarm about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen as new surveys revealed that people were going without food for three days in some parts of the country. The warning came as the UN launched a new emergency appeal for the country.
Kelly Gilbride policy officer from Oxfam said:
“Millions of Yemenis are at breaking point and do not know where their next meal is coming from. People in Al-Jawf province, report going without food for 3 days and women are being forced to beg on the streets to get enough food for their families. Many families are relying on a diet of tea and bread.”
New malnutrition data has underlined the severity of the crisis. A recent survey in Abyan found that almost one in five children is suffering from acute malnutrition. This is above emergency levels.
The aid agencies said that the crisis is not only touching people affected by conflict or living in camps. Surging food and fuel prices, combined with political turmoil and violence, have pushed poor Yemenis across the country to the brink. The aid agencies called on donors to fund the new appeal quickly and generously to prevent the crisis becoming a catastrophe. It called on them to heed the lessons from the Horn of Africa of the tragic human cost of responding too late.
The UN is appealing for $447 million appeal to respond to the needs of 4 million people, 44 percent of the total population in need. The funds required have almost doubled since last year. Despite the urgency of the situation, humanitarian agencies in Yemen have long faced funding shortfalls. The UN has said that it expects the humanitarian situation in Yemen to worsen in 2012.
Kelly Gilbride from Oxfam continued:
“People are struggling to cope. They are selling livestock and other assets and getting into debt just to put food on the table. In Hajjah, there are reports of children being pulled out of school to work as their families need money for food. It is important that world leaders wake up to the extent of the emergency in Yemen. The focus on the political transition should not overshadow the dire and growing human needs.”
The agencies called on the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council – such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates – that brokered the political agreement to complement this initiative with urgent humanitarian aid.
Hashem Awnallah, Islamic Relief Country Director, said
“I sincerely hope that Yemen’s (GCC) neighbours act quickly and take the lead in responding to the pressing needs of Yemenis, not just in conflict affected areas but also in addressing Yemen’s critical development challenges, especially now that Yemen has taken a step in the right direction in the process of restoring peace and stability in this important and beautiful country”.
Global Acute Malnutrition rates above 15 percent are considered to have passed the emergency threshold. Acute malnutrition rates are reported to be 18.6 percent in Abyan according to the UN.