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More than half Yemen's population are going hungry Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

More than half Yemen's population are going hungry

Millions of people are in urgent need across the war-torn country [AFP]

Date of publication: 29 January, 2016

Yemenis are facing growing food insecurity as prices skyrocket due to ongoing conflict and import restrictions, says the UN agricultural agency.
More than half of Yemen's population face hunger, an increase of 12 per cent in the past eight months, the UN agricultural agency has revealed.

Some 14.4 million Yemenis are food insecure as prices skyrocket due to ongoing conflict and import restrictions, cautioned the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

"The numbers are staggering," said Etienne Peterschmitt, the FAO's emergency response team leader in Yemen.

He called the situation "a forgotten crisis, with millions of people in urgent need across the war-torn country", reported the UN.

"Under these critical conditions, it's more important than ever to help families produce their own food and reduce their dependence on increasingly scarce and costly food imports," he added.

Food and fuel prices in the country have risen dramatically since the conflict escalated in March 2015 due to fuel shortages and import restrictions.

Yemen relies on imports for more than 90 percent of its staple foods as only four percent of land is arable - and only a small proportion of that is used to produce food.

The FAO said the 2.3 million people who are now internally displaced - an increase of more than 400 percent since January 2015 - is placing additional pressure on host communities to provide food.

FAO Representative in Yemen Salah Elhajj Hassan said urgent support was needed to help families grow food and protect their livestock, and measures were needed to facilitate much-needed food and fuel imports.

"Food insecurity and malnutrition are becoming highly critical," he said.
To manage the crisis the FAO has increased its annual funding appeal for Yemen in 2016 to $25 million.

A shortage of materials such as seeds and fertilisers has also seriously reduced crop production, while two cyclones in November disrupted fishing along the country's coastline.

To manage the crisis the FAO has increased its annual funding appeal for Yemen in 2016 to $25 million.

Yemen descended into further chaos when the Saudi-led coalition began airstrikes in March to support the government and push back Houthi rebels who had seized the capital, Sanaa, in previous months.

Earlier this week, the UN issued a report calling on the Security Council to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Yemen by all parties.

On 6 January, the UN Security Council made fresh appeals for a truce in Yemen, amid reports that civilian casualties had exceeded 8,100 since the Saudi-led coalition entered the conflict.

The UN also released a report earlier this month, estimating that at least 2.9 million Yemeni children had been forced out of school since March 2015. 

So far, UN attempts to broker a ceasefire have been unsuccessful.

Peace talks between Yemen's government and the Houthi rebels were postponed on 9 January due to ongoing fighting.

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