My recent interview with Jennifer Mizgata of the UN World Food Programme details the food crisis facing Yemen. The international community needs to step up to help now.
The Pentagon just approved 150 million in military aid for Yemen, so it can take on the Al Qaida presence in the country. What does this tell us? Yemen is a country that is critical to U.S. foreign policy; we do not want an Al Qaida presence there. Secretary Clinton has emphasized this in recent statements.
But if helping Yemen is in our national security interest, then why is there not more action to end suffering from hunger and poverty? Lack of funding for the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is having a terrible impact on the people of Yemen.
Those displaced by the conflict in North Yemen, and living in camps, are having their rations reduced and these may soon run out. There has been no UN school feeding distribution for children throughout Yemen since last June.
Children at camps in Yemen have to contend with reduced rations. (WFP/Jennifer Mizgata)
Yesterday, I contacted each of my senators about the Yemen crisis. I did receive a fast response from the office of Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Meghan Dubyak, an aide for Senator Brown, said she would "be sure to alert the Senator to the Yemen situation." So hopefully this will help bring attention to the crisis. Yemen needs a spokesperson at the highest levels of government right now.
I would have liked to have contacted the White House coordinator on global hunger issues. However, no such position exists at the White House. President Obama has not appointed one and the Congress has not taken action on the legislation which would create the position. If we had this type of "food ambassador," he could be working on rallying international support for feeding Yemen and other countries.