Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Yemen on Tuesday discussing strategic ties with the Middle Eastern country. Clinton remarked that the U.S. and Yemen “face a common threat posed by the terrorists and al-Qaida.”
But as Clinton spoke, the humanitarian situation in Yemen was fast deteriorating. Funding for the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and other aid agencies operating in the country is diminishing.
Child feeding programs in particular have suffered greatly. Yemen has one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world. Universal feeding of infants and school age children should be established in order to prevent malnutrition which stunts children’s growth and learning ability.
Budget shortages are also threatening the humanitarian logistics service run by WFP. Many aid agencies working in Yemen depend on this transport service. If logistics funding runs out, food and other supplies cannot be delivered. Yemen has hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the conflict in the north between the government and rebels. What could be more detrimental to the peace and reconstruction process than much-needed food sitting in a warehouse because there is no money to transport it to war victims?
So now the humanitarian situation reaches a tipping point. Will the United States and the international community ignore the hunger, poverty, and want in Yemen or do something about it?
Clinton said yesterday that “the United States is committed to the people of Yemen. We want this to be a relationship not just between leaders and governments, but between the people of Yemen and the people of the United States of America.” Clinton also spoke of “a unified, prosperous, stable, democratic Yemen.”
But you cannot build the foundation for these ideals on empty stomachs and generation after generation of malnourished children. And that is where things stand right now with Yemen.
Video of Secretary Clinton’s remarks in Yemen