Yemen: Thankful For Food Aid, Displaced Families Hope Truce Lasts

Gomaa says WFP food in the camp has been life saving.

Copyright: WFP/Abeer Etefa

Families displaced by recent fighting in northern Yemen are following the news on a recently declared ceasefire closely, hoping they can soon return home. For now, they are surviving on food assistance. But with funds dwindling, those rations are under threat.

AL MAZRAQ -- Gomaa fled her northern village five months ago, during the start of the government’s latest offensive against rebels. Just 21, she found herself leading a group composed of her mother, two sons, several aunts and their children.

They arrived in the Mazraq camp in Hajjah Governorate during the month of Ramadan. Since then, along with most of the 18,000 IDPs in the camp, they have been receiving food assistance from WFP.

"The food has been life saving,” she said. “We fled our home with few clothes and with an old mother and young children, I cannot find work in this area."

Go back home

"There are so many things to worry about in our daily life in the camp; worries about my husband and father who went to work in the field but never came back; worries about when we can go back home. 

“But at least we do not have to worry about what we will eat everyday," Gomaa said.

In the Harad district around the Al Mazraq camp, WFP continues to feed more than 88,000 people that fled the fighting between the government and Al Houthis rebels in northern Yemen. Yemeni authorities declared a ceasefire on February 11 and hopes are high in the camps that it will hold.

Funding shortfalls

The agency has now reached more than 215,000 people, spread through the Hajjah, Sa'ada, Al Jawf, Sana'a and Amran governorates. But it is facing serious funding shortfalls and has already begun to experience pipeline breaks.

Food rations for beneficiaries may have to be cut as low as 450 kcal per person per day as of April.

"I do not care whether I will get a food ration next month or not but I am worried about my children and grandchildren. They need to continue to survive," said 96 year-old Mahmoud, another resident of the Al Mazraq camp .

A quarter of a million civilians have been displaced by the conflict in northern Yemen , 50,000 of them are under the age of five.