WFP Assists Thousands of Newly Displaced People as Conflict Intensifies in Yemen

Published on 21 August 2009

SA’ADA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has begun distributing emergency rations to thousands of people displaced by the latest upsurge of fighting in northwestern Yemen – as funds for its ongoing operations in the country are running out.

The five-year conflict in Sa’ada has already forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes and thousands more have been displaced by renewed fighting in recent weeks.

WFP provided high-energy biscuits and dates to 7,000 people in Hajjah governorate last week and today began distributing a full one-month ration of cereals, pulses, vegetable oil, salt and sugar to 10,000 people – some of whom had been displaced before.

WFP airlifted an additional 40 metric tons of high energy biscuits from the UN humanitarian depot in Dubai last week and is planning another airlift in the next few days. 

 “WFP responded rapidly to this sudden crisis, providing life-saving assistance to thousands of homeless and hungry people who are reliant on our help,” said Gian Carlo Cirri, WFP Country Director in Yemen. “But we are very short of funds for our operations, especially now that the situation is deteriorating and the needs are increasing.”

In July, a shortage of funds forced WFP to halve its rations to 95,000 war-affected people, many of whom depend entirely on food assistance. Currently, WFP only has enough food in Sa’ada to cover the newly expanded caseload of 150,000 beneficiaries for two weeks.

Overall, WFP is facing a shortfall of US$20 million or 36 percent of total needs for 2009.

In June 2009, WFP had to suspend food assistance programmes linked to health and education, which benefited 815,000 of the most vulnerable Yemenis.

From November onwards, more than one million people risk losing food assistance if WFP does not receive any additional resources. These beneficiaries include families who lost their homes and livelihoods during last year’s floods in eastern Yemen and those who have been pushed deeper into poverty, hunger and malnutrition as a result of high food prices.

For more information, please contact:

Reem Nada, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +202-2528-1730 ext. 2610

Maria Santamarina, WFP/Sana'a, Tel. +967-1-214100 ext. 2407