Two years of conflict have devastated Yemen, left 18 million people in need of some kind of humanitarian assistance and created the largest food security emergency in the world.
The country is experiencing a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’.
That was the frank assessment by a senior UN aid official back in August 2015, and one that was repeated by Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien in a statement to the UN Security Council in October 2016.
An estimated 17 million people are considered food insecure and 6.8 million severely food insecure – 3 million more than in January 2017.
About 3.3 million children and pregnant or breast-feeding women are acutely malnourished, including 462,000 children under five who face severe acute malnutrition. That represents a 57% increase since late 2015 and threatens the lives and life-long prospects of those affected, according to the UN.
The World Food Programme has classified seven of Yemen’s 22 provinces as being at “emergency” level – one step below famine on the five-point Integrated Food Security Phase Classification scale. Ten provinces are at “crisis” level.
Yemen usually imports more than 90% of staple food. But a naval embargo imposed by the Saudi-led coalition, fighting around the government-controlled port of Aden and air strikes on the rebel-held port of Hudaydah, have severely reduced imports since 2015. A lack of fuel, coupled with insecurity and damage to markets and roads, have also prevented supplies from being distributed.
Aid organisations are struggling to help.
More than 70 humanitarian organisations have been working to help those in need. However, access constraints, damaged infrastructure and unreliable access to fuel, together with a lack of funding, have hampered their efforts.