WFP races to assist thousands displaced in Yemen

Published on 06 May 2007

WFP will start tomorrow to distribute food assistance to some 20,000 people displaced by heavy fighting around the governorate of Saada in north-western Yemen.

WFP will start tomorrow to distribute food assistance to some 20,000 people displaced by heavy fighting around the governorate of Saada in north-western Yemen.

The distribution is part of WFP’s two-month operation, launched last week and budgeted at US$443,000.

“Many of the displaced fled their homes with only what they could carry and they are now living with families and friends in remote locations outside Saada. We are anxious to reach all of them with assistance as soon as possible,” said Mohamed El Kouhene, WFP’s Country Director in Yemen.

More displaced possible

According to an initial UN-inter agency assessment mission, fighting has displaced an estimated 20,000 people but the figure could rise once security constraints are lifted and there is total access to the area.

Tomorrow’s distribution will start with 2,000 beneficiaries in the camps for internally displaced people (IDP) in Saada, who have been prioritised.

Those living with host families are being given ration cards in preparation for further distributions later in the week.

Response

The Yemeni Government is supporting the operation by providing warehouses to store WFP stocks.

“The Government has responded to this emergency constructively; we appreciate the Government’s excellent support at this very difficult time,” added El Kouhene.

“We are very thankful for WFP’s rapid response to this emergency situation, which we hope will soon be resolved,” said Abdulkarim Al-Arhabi, Yemen’s Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs and Minister of Planning and International Cooperation.

Country programme

Besides this two month operation, the UN agency has a new five-year country programme (2007-2011) for one million Yemenis - budgeted at US$48 million - focusing on expanding girls’ access to education and improving the health and nutritional status of malnourished children under five, pregnant and lactating women and tuberculosis and leprosy patients.

To date, the programme has received nearly US$5 million. WFP also supplies food to over 33,000 Somali refugees in transit centres and in the Kharaz Refugee camp located in the province of Lahj.

WFP has provided US$300 million of food assistance to Yemen since 1967, when the country was split into the Yemen Arab Republic and the South People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen.