The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes EUR 37 million from the European Union (EU) to support the humanitarian response in Yemen and provide emergency food assistance in response to an alarming rise in food insecurity which has left millions on the brink of famine.
The EU funds will allow WFP to continue to address the urgent food needs of nearly 13 million people in the country through food distributions or cash assistance. Over half of all Yemenis are unable to afford basic food items as over six years of conflict has displaced millions, destroyed livelihoods and left the economy in tatters.
Conditions in Yemen have worsened over the past 12 months and pockets of famine have returned to the country for the first time in two years.
“Thousands of Yemenis are already experiencing famine-like conditions and many more are threatened by intensified fighting and the COVID-19 surge. How much more will Yemenis be forced to bear? The EU will not abandon them in their hour of need,“ says European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič. “The new EU funding to WFP shows our sustained commitment to ensuring lifesaving food assistance and humanitarian aid reach those most in need. This is the time for everyone to step up and for warring parties to end the conflict that has inflicted years of suffering on the population.”
New contributions from the EU and other key donors have allowed WFP to resume monthly food distributions in Yemen’s worst hunger hotspots over the last few months, a year after funding shortfalls and operational challenges forced ration cuts in Yemen’s north.
More than 350,000 people in 11 districts facing famine-like conditions (IPC5) have received monthly assistance since February. While nearly 6 million people in the nine governorates with the highest rates of emergency food insecurity (IPC4) will receive monthly support from June.
“Hunger is on the rise around the world, but nowhere more than in Yemen, where the scale of the crisis is truly staggering and famine is knocking on the door,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. “The European Union has been a strong and consistent supporter of WFP’s work in Yemen, helping deliver life-saving food assistance to the most vulnerable children and their families. But ultimately we are just treating the symptoms of this crisis – the suffering will only end when there is peace in Yemen.”
With the EU’s support, WFP will expand the use of cash transfers to deliver food assistance. Cash transfers provide immediate relief for struggling families while also having a multiplier effects on the local economy, building economic resilience.
EUR 2 million of the EU’s new contribution will go towards the WFP-run United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), transporting humanitarian workers and cargo. UNHAS recently opened an air route to Marib to support the emergency response for families displaced by fierce ongoing clashes.
Over the last six years, the EU has contributed over EUR 250 million to WFP’s Yemen operation and been a vocal advocate for the need for an accountable and transparent humanitarian response in the war-torn country. Responding to the acute humanitarian crisis requires the support and action of many. Resources remain stretched at a time when needs are rising. Despite strong support so far this year, WFP’s ability to maintain famine prevention efforts through to the end of the year hangs in the balance.