As has been feared for some time, Yemen is descending into chaos. There is a standoff in the capital as protesters are trying to get rid of long-time President Saleh. He does not appear to be ready to leave.
Al Qaeda is taking advantage of the situation and has launched attacks in Yemen.
The most recent unrest is also unleashing silent assaults on the Yemeni population. Food prices are rising, and this is devastating for a country where one in three people suffer from hunger.
Millions of Yemenis struggle to access basic foods. Last year, the UN World Food Programme said some families spend 30 percent of their monthly income just to buy bread. So now, with prices even higher amidst the unrest, it’s even harder to buy basic foods.
WFP wants to run an emergency safety net operation to deliver rations to families across 14 governorates. However, WFP is facing dramatically low funding. In a press release today, WFP said the safety net operation “is under-funded for what is becoming a more and more critical operation considering the developing context. Available funding will only cover the most severely food insecure governorates (Rayma, Hajja and Amran) although a further five governorates are in critical need of coverage as well.”
For a relatively inexpensive price, relief can be bought for Yemeni families by funding the WFP mission. This would include the emergency safety net operation, as well as restoring already cut Food for Education programs. It’s important to note that Food for Education, which provides rations for families and encourages school attendance, has only had one limited distribution since June, 2009.
We can help millions of Yemenis and thereby reinforce the peace process in Yemen. Food is a source of hope and can provide some stability in a turbulent period.
We do not have to sit by helpless. We can help avert a tragedy by encouraging dialogue between the protesters and the government forces. We can take action to alleviate one major crisis point: hunger and malnutrition.
For more information on hunger in Yemen visit the World Food Programme.