Yemen is facing a ‘catastrophic food crisis’ with 10 million people, or 40 percent of the population in the Arab world’s poorest country, without adequate food supply, international aid agencies have said.
CARE, International Medical Corps, Islamic Relief, Oxfam and Save the Children were some of the agencies that urged participants at a recent Friends of Yemen summit in Saudi Arabia to increase efforts in dealing with the crisis.
The humanitarian agencies stated in a press release that the malnutrition rates recorded by the United Nations were very high, with one in three children suffering from severe malnutrition.
While there is food stocked in local markets, the problem lies in millions of people unable to afford buying it.
In the capital Sana’a, deteriorated economic conditions left many people unemployed and added to hardships brought about by political turmoil and the continuous war against al-Qaeda.
A rise in food and fuel costs forced many poor people to dig through trash daily in search for recyclable plastic that could be sold for money as families struggle to make ends meet.
The military has been fighting against insurgents affiliated to al-Qaeda for months. The terrorist group took advantage of a security vacuum during last year’s uprising against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh to lay its control on several villages and towns south of country.
The Yemeni government has placed restoring security and stability to the country at the top of its priorities.
“Firstly, security and stability will enhance the Yemeni economic situation and this will activate the labour force and reduce the unemployment, especially in the rural areas. Secondly, we have to reach a political agreement between all parties. Yemen is our responsibility, and if the international community has started to realise the deteriorating situation here, we must give up our self interests and party interests and give the interest to the Yemeni issues,” said Taha al-Faseel, undersecretary of Yemeni industry and Trade Ministry.
At a “Friends of Yemen” conference in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, “Saudi Arabia pledged $3.25 billion in development aid as part of a $4 billion package from Western and Gulf countries to help the violence-torn country recover.