David Beasley Executive Director, World Food Programme (WFP), who visited Yemen has urged for an immediate end to the war in the region so that food and healthcare can be provided to people, especially children, in the country teetering on the brink of famine.

“Over half of the people in Yemen are facing acute food shortages with millions knocking on the door of famine. These are not just numbers. They are real people and it is heartbreaking,” said David Beasley, adding, “Famine-like conditions are emerging across Yemen and the answer is simple. We have a vaccine for this. It is called food.”

Beasley visited a childrens hospital in Sana’a, and shared a chilling account of what he saw, “In the children’s wing of any hospital in the world, you usually hear crying or laughter but in these hospitals in Yemen, there is dead silence as the children are too sick and too weak to either cry or laugh.” According to the WFP, half of all children under five in Yemen – 2.3 million – are projected to face acute malnutrition this year, with nearly 400,000 suffering from severe acute malnutrition and likely to die if they do not get urgent treatment.

Beasley also visited a WFP-run kitchen in the southern city of Aden which employs local women – many of them displaced by conflict, others their families’ sole breadwinner – to make packed lunches for schoolchildren. “When we empower women and girls, we take a step towards zero hunger,” said Beasley. “But we need Yemen’s war to end so these brave and ambitious girls can grow up to be the doctors, pilots and teachers they want to be,” he urged.

According to the WFP 16 million people are food insecure in Yemen. While, nearly 50,000 people are already facing famine-like conditions (IPC 5), a further 5 million people are only one step away (IPC 4). WFP is looking at all options to scale up assistance to meet the growing needs and avert a devastating famine. WFP is already prioritising monthly assistance to 11 districts with populations in famine-like conditions in a bid to save lives and prevent further decline.  WFP needs USD 1.9 billion to save lives and provide food assistance in 2021. 

*Feature Image by Ibrahem Qasim via Wikimedia Commons.