Ukraine Adds to Yemen’s Woes as Hunger Emergency Spreads and Lack of Funding Leaves Millions Vulnerable

Photo: WFP/ Hebatallah Munassar/2022
Published March 15, 2022

SANA’A – Desperate levels of hunger in war-torn Yemen are set to become catastrophic as the Ukraine crisis pushes up food prices and a nearly $900 million funding gap makes further cuts in food assistance ever more certain, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today.

The number of people needing food assistance has increased to 17.4 million – an increase of 1.2 million people compared to last year – and is forecast to reach 19 million people in the second half of the year if funding is not forthcoming, according to the latest Integrated Phase Classification (IPC).

“We are looking at a seismic hunger crisis if we do not step up now. Unless we receive immediate funds, hungry people will lose assistance right at the time they need it most,” said U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley on the eve of a high-level pledging event for Yemen. “Funding for Yemen has never reached this point. We have no choice but to take food from the hungry to feed the starving.”

The U.N. World Food Programme was forced to reduce food rations for 8 million people at the beginning of the year due to a shortage of funds. For now, 5 million people who are at immediate risk of slipping into famine conditions have continued to receive a full food ration. But unless new funds arrive further reductions will be unavoidable.

The U.N. World Food Programme is currently only 11% funded and needs more than $887.9 million to provide food assistance for 13 million people over the coming six months.

Seven years of conflict, combined with the ensuing economic crisis, the depreciation of the currency and a global pandemic have already pushed food prices in 2021 to their highest levels since 2015. Food assistance has become the only source of food for millions. The Ukraine crisis is yet another blow to Yemen, driving food and fuel prices higher still.

U.N. World Food Programme food assistance has kept famine at bay in Yemen for the last few years. In 2021, U.N. World Food Programme delivered more than 1 million tons of food and over $330 million in cash and voucher assistance to families across Yemen.

Yemen is just one of several countries contributing to an unprecedented hunger challenge facing the world in in 2022. Conflict and climate shocks, compounded by COVID-19 and rising costs, are driving millions of people closer to starvation – threatening to increase migration and instability globally.

With the numbers of hungry rising globally, the U.N. World Food Programme is calling for a step-change in global support for its operations.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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