Imagine being displaced from your home by a war. You leave almost everything behind. You have to find shelter somewhere else, away from the conflict zone, maybe in a refugee camp. You have to depend on others entirely for food, medicine, and shelter.
You would hope others would come to your aid. People in Yemen, displaced by the war in the northern part of their country, depend on rations from the UN World Food Programme (WFP). However, WFP has received low funding for its relief operation. These victims of war are living with reduced rations, another blow to suffer.
Georgia Warner, a WFP officer, recently met with some of these internally displaced Yemenis at a food distribution center. Warner listened to the people voice their concerns over the distributions. But the main concern, the reduced rations, is one only donors can fix. Warner said, “I promised that we are absolutely working on it and tried to be candid about lack of funding – they understood and thanked me for trying.”
Despite all the interest in Yemen, ranging from a Senate Resolution to the Pentagon discussing a billion dollars in military aid to counter Al Qaeda, there is so little attention paid to food. Aside from the war victims relief, other food aid programs for infants and school children also get one cut after another. From a humanitarian or national security point of view, it just does not make sense.
Even a recent donation from the U.S. of $13 million still leaves a 53% funding gap in WFP’s 2010 Yemen operation. It would not take that much for the U.S. and international partners to fix this. And certainly no sound strategy for Yemen can do without a roadmap to end hunger. The U.S. should know better than anyone, based on our World War II experience, the meaning of Food for Peace. But somehow, this has gotten lost in the halls of Washington.
There is much healing to do in Yemen from war, hunger, and poverty. It starts with food and compassion.
You can donate at the World Food Program USA site