News about Yemen is dominating the airwaves following the killing of the Al Qaeda leader there. Far less reported is the suffering of those displaced by the fighting between the government and Al Qaeda-linked militants.
Abeer Etefa of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) just visited the southern port city of Aden and witnessed the terrible conditions in which displaced Yemenis are living.
WFP is bringing food assistance to around 90,000 people from southern Yemen who have been displaced by the ongoing conflict in Abyan governorate. Most of the families are now living in school buildings or with host families in the city of Aden. (World Food Programme video)
Relief for the displaced in Aden is part of WFP's larger operation to feed 2.5 million impoverished Yemenis impacted by high food prices. Even before this year's events unfolded, Yemenis struggled to afford food. Prices have gone up even further during the political unrest, forcing some families to skip meals.
The WFP safety net mission is also providing food to malnourished children under five years of age and Food for Work projects to rehabilitate agriculture and infrastructure. There is one problem, though. WFP, which relies on voluntary donations, does not have enough funding to reach all those in need.
In addition, WFP needs more funding to feed over 400,000 displaced by years of fighting in Northern Yemen between the government and rebels. The fog is just lifting on the aftermath of this conflict as aid groups are starting to reach those previously cut off from humanitarian aid. Startling child malnutrition rates have been found.
Also, Food for Education programs which were previously cut because of the low funding need to be restarted and expanded to reach hundreds of thousands of more children.
The U.S. and its partners need to emphasize more of a food for peace approach when it comes to Yemen. Peace and stability are not founded upon empty stomachs, malnourished children, and the hopelessness that comes with hunger.
Yesterday there was also news that a shipment of plumpydoz, a food to treat malnourished children, was heading toward Yemen from the U.S. based company Edesia. WFP will distribute this food.
In a country with one of the highest child malnutrition rates, this is the best news they can get. But it's just a start. For there are many cases of child malnutrition remaining and plumpydoz and plumpynut foods will be needed in greater quantity. This takes on extra urgency with the state of conflict and political turmoil now ongoing in Yemen.