NGOs Express Grave Concern Over Suspension of Food Assistance in Yemen
Humanitarian organizations warn of looming food crisis if immediate resolution to negotiations is not reached
Twenty-two humanitarian organizations in Yemen today are voicing our deep concern regarding the World Food Programme's (WFP) recent announcement of a “pause” of the General Food Assistance (GFA) programme, which will impact 9.5 million people experiencing food insecurity across northern Yemen.
The suspension of food assistance reportedly comes after unsuccessful negotiations between Ansar Allah (AA) and WFP to reach an agreement on reductions to food assistance, which have been ongoing for nearly one year. Global humanitarian funding cuts have resulted in the need to retarget to reach the most vulnerable. Due to the disruption of food supply chains caused by this pause, it will take at least four months for the resumption of food assistance even if an agreement is reached.
The decision to pause food assistance will exacerbate the already critical humanitarian situation, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women, and the elderly, leading to malnutrition, worsening health conditions, increased economic strain, and potentially fueling social unrest and conflict.
According to the WFP, there are currently 17 million people - more than half of the population of Yemen - at crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity (IPC 3 and 4), including 2.2 million malnourished children and 1.3 million pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Food assistance has been critical to averting disaster in Yemen, where an
estimated 6.1 million people are just one step away from famine.
Even before the suspension was announced, gaps in the food assistance programme have limited the ability to fully meet the needs of vulnerable communities. In October, Mohammad, an elderly man with 10 family members and no income, told us about the impact of food scarcity. Mohammad’s family is among the 4.5 million internally displaced Yemenis and it had been three months since they last received food assistance. As a result, he was forced to sell some of the little furniture he had remaining in his home in order to secure food for himself and his family.
In one district in Amran Governorate alone, 12,270 families (85,890 persons) received only two food baskets so far this year, down from the expected six they would have received as a minimum based on their needs. Skipping meals is becoming a common reality for families
and the risk of resorting to irreversible negative coping mechanisms, such as pulling children out of school for child labour and early marriage, both of which are rising rapidly.
"After years of conflict and economic decline, food aid is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis and suspending it as the country works towards peace is a catastrophic scenario. We understand the fears and concerns of the affected Yemeni people, and we stand in solidarity with them. Humanitarian responders are doing all they can to alleviate suffering and continue our advocacy efforts for renewed food principled assistance," said the undersigned NGOs.
Humanitarian organizations in Yemen operate independently of any political or
governmental agendas. Our sole focus is on delivering humanitarian aid to those in need.
We have played, and will continue to play a critical role in addressing the ongoing crisis,
always prioritizing the needs of the communities we serve.
While these developments are deeply troubling, we recognize the challenges ahead and
reaffirm our commitment to do everything within our capacity to mitigate these impacts and
urge parties to reach a resolution so that much-needed food assistance can resume and we
can work to meet the needs of Yemeni communities.