Last month Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “We believe bringing unity and stability to Yemen is an urgent national security priority of ours.” If this is the case, why are tens of thousands of Yemenis, displaced by conflict and living in camps, having their rations cut? Why has there not been a UN school feeding distribution for children since last June?
A strategy for peace in Yemen has to start with food. As former Secretary of State George C. Marshall said, “Hunger and insecurity are the worst enemies of peace.” It is in the international community’s interest to help Yemen, particularly with the Al Qaeda menace in the country. As Secretary Clinton explained in London, “Progress against violent extremists and progress toward a better future for the Yemeni people will depend upon fortifying development efforts.”
But development cannot go forward without food. In a country where about half of the population lives on less than two dollars a day, getting food is a daily crisis. The UN World Food Programme (WFP), facing funding shortfalls, is being forced to cut rations for those displaced by fighting in the northern part of the country. Without new funding, more ration cuts will follow.
One of the camps for those displaced by fighting between government forces and Al-Houthi rebels in Northern Yemen. Low funding for the World Food Programme has meant reduced rations for people living in the camps. More ration cuts will follow without donations from the international community. (WFP/Maria Santamarina)
A WFP school feeding initiative was suspended last June because of lack of funding. This was a program that helped children and also their families since it provided take-home rations. A food program, which bolsters education, is at the foundation of development and stability in Yemen. Why is it not being funded?
The U.S. must make hunger a top priority in Yemen, and international support must be rallied to fund the World Food Programme’s relief efforts. This is the right road to peace in that country. The school feeding initiative should be restarted and expanded to reach as many children as possible.
How can you help? You can write to your representative, or write to the White House, asking Congress and the President to pay attention not only to hunger in Yemen, but also around the globe. It would be the smartest foreign policy the country could pursue. Also, you can contact the World Food Programme or the Friends of the World Food Program about donating to help Yemen.