Food prices are skyrocketing in Yemen. Yemeni families are being forced to skip meals or divert money from health care just to afford bread. As the New York Times reported this week, shortages of fuel, water and other basics have placed even more stress on Yemenis.
To make the situation even worse, the UN World Food Programme's (WFP) Yemen mission is facing massive funding shortages. This is an agency that depends entirely on voluntary contributions from governments and the public.
WFP, in a press release issued today, said: "Yemen is entering a serious humanitarian crisis. UN presence in the country is essential, both to provide relief during the ongoing political and economic emergency, as well as to ensure operational continuity."
This crisis unfolds on many fronts. You have an already impoverished population that would need support even if there were no political unrest and resulting fallout. Years of conflict between the government and rebels in Northern Yemen left people in that area struggling to rebuild their lives. Their reconstruction now is even more difficult.
A 2010 photo showing Damage in Sa'ada City in Northern Yemen from the fighting between the government and rebels (Aysha Twose/Save the Children)
In the North, WFP is planning to feed 416,800 IDPs and war-affected persons, including 119,100 children under five who will receive nutritional support. Children under five who do not receive proper nutrition can suffer severe and lasting mental and physical damage.
WFP says it's short almost $34 million for its "Food Assistance to Conflict-Affected Persons in Northern Yemen" program. In addition, "personnel transport and dispatching has been hampered by the widespread lack of fuel" in the area.
UNICEF is also providing aid to the war victims in Northern Yemen, including Plumpy'nut for malnourished children. UNICEF Yemen's director Geert Cappeleare says: "There is definitely a new window of opportunity for providing assistance in areas which have been for some time inaccessible."