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UN agriculture agency and World Bank launch new initiative to avert famine in Yemen

Two-year-old Badel lives with his mother and sister at a YHPF supported Hammam IDP camp in Ibb, Yemen, in a room with three other families. He is malnourished and sick with a bloated stomach (March 2017). Photo: OCHA

3 October 2017

More than half a million vulnerable and food-insecure people in war-torn Yemen will receive immediate relief and long-term sustainable agricultural support, thanks to a $36 million project launched by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Bank.

“The project will have a strong humanitarian impact in Yemen, as it will provide emergency support and help in building the resilience of the vulnerable Yemeni population,” said Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa.

Yemen’s ongoing conflict has left 17 million people facing crisis levels of acute food insecurity. The fighting has also devastated agriculture sector and livelihoods, making the country the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

The grant, supported by the World Bank’s Global Agriculture Food Security Program (GAFSP), will prioritize FAO’s projects to boost productivity, income and nutrition, especially in those most famine-hit regions in the country.

The initiative will also contribute to sustainable agriculture solutions in the long term, according to Salah El-Hajj Hassan, FAO Country Representative in Yemen.

These solutions include “furthering rural development, providing food security, rehabilitating community water infrastructures and improving capacity development,” he said.

“The implementation of the project will also allow FAO to build on previous projects, such as those empowering women to become more involved in conflict resolution issues,” he added. “Given the ongoing hostilities in Yemen, this project could also contribute to bringing stability to the country.”

To date, FAO has vaccinated over one million livestock and it plans to assist over three million people who are on the brink of starvation.

UN agencies boost partnership on visualization of food security data for Yemen

WFP trucks loaded with wheat grain, oil and salt are ready to leave for Amran, a hundred kilometres north of Yemen’s capital, Sana'a. Photo: OCHA/Charlotte Cans

WFP trucks loaded with wheat grain, oil and salt are ready to leave for Amran, a hundred kilometres north of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. Photo: OCHA/Charlotte Cans

4 May 2016

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) are boosting wider understanding of how families in conflict-torn Yemen struggle with persistent food insecurity, through a new interactive visualization of data captured by mobile technology and shared on an open source platform.

“This is an important step towards greater transparency by making crucial food security data freely available in open source. In the case of Yemen, where the humanitarian situation is rapidly deteriorating due to continued conflict it is paramount that the data we capture is available to as wide an audience as possible, to inform key decisions,” said WFP Chief Economist Arif Husain in a press release.

Collected by WFP’s mobile food security monitoring service (mVAM), the data track a household’s food consumption. The visualization shows how families are coping in the face of hunger and food shortages as the months pass.

It can be observed in the visualization that as of March 2016, about 70 per cent of families in each governorate in Yemen are borrowing food or relying on the help of friends and relatives to cope with food insecurity. This proportion is more significant in governorates affected by conflict.

WFP and OCHA plan to extend the visualization to show data from other countries.

The data are available on OCHA’s Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX), an open platform for sharing crisis data. The platform includes some 4,000 data sets from humanitarian partners, allowing a range of users – from journalists to policy makers and data scientists – to explore the data and gain insight.

“The food security data that WFP shares through HDX is critical to understanding the severity of humanitarian crises around the world,” said Sarah Telford, Head of HDX. “WFP has become a leader in humanitarian data with its innovative approaches to data collection in places like Yemen and its openness to sharing data globally.”

WFP and OCHA began collaborating last year when the HDX platform created an interactive visualization for food price data – available on WFP’s VAM Shop.

With funding from Google, WFP has also released the Application Programme Interface, which provides open access to large amounts of food security data that it collects in real-time through mobile technology.

UN: more than 21 million people in Yemen need basic humanitarian aid

WHO has provided 35 tonnes of medical supplies to health facilities in Hadramaut, Shabwah and Al Mahara in Yemen, which are sufficient to support over 665,000 individuals across the three governorates. Photo: WHO/Sadeq Al-Wesabi

WHO has provided 35 tonnes of medical supplies to health facilities in Hadramaut, Shabwah and Al Mahara in Yemen, which are sufficient to support over 665,000 individuals across the three governorates. Photo: WHO/Sadeq Al-Wesabi

24 November 2015

Some 21.2 million people in Yemen – or 82 per cent of the population – require some kind of assistance to meet their basic needs, according to a recently-published overview of the country’s humanitarian needs for the next year carried out by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

In its 2016 Humanitarian Needs Overview, OCHA also notes that the severity of needs among vulnerable people has intensified across sectors amidst the conflict’s ongoing conflict. The overview finds that six months of violence have taken a “severe toll” on civilians’ lives and basic rights. Since 26 March, health facilities have reported more than 32,200 casualties – many of them civilians.

In the same period, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has verified 8,875 reports of human rights violations – an average of 43 violations every day. Verified incidents of child death or injury from March to September are reportedly almost five times higher than 2014 totals.

Since uprisings in early 2011, and the subsequent outbreak of violence in 2014, the United Nations has been engaging with the Yemeni parties, regional countries, Security Council members and other Member States with the aim of preparing the ground for a cessation of hostilities and a resumption of a political transition process towards a peaceful, stable and democratic country.

OCHA’s overview finds that millions of people in Yemen need assistance to ensure their basic survival. An estimated 14.4 million are food insecure, including 7.6 million who are severely food insecure, while another 19.3 million lack adequate access to clean water or sanitation, and nearly 320,000 children are severely acutely malnourished.

The overview also focuses on how the collapse of basic services in Yemen continues to accelerate. UN partners estimate that 14.1 million people lack sufficient access to healthcare, three million children and pregnant or lactating women require malnutrition treatment or preventive services, and 1.8 million children have been out of school since mid-March.

OCHA further notes that solid waste removal has come to a halt in several areas, with service availability rapidly contracting due to direct impact of conflict and insufficient resources to pay salaries or maintain services.

Turning to the effects of displacement, the overview says that UN relief partners estimate that 2.3 million people are currently displaced within Yemen – about half of whom are in Aden, Taiz, Hajjah and Al Dhale’e governorates – and an additional 121,000 have fled the country. OCHA estimates that about 2.7 million people now require support to secure shelter or essential household supplies, including internally displaced persons (IDPs) and vulnerable host families.

Finally, OCHA says IDPs are currently sheltering in 260 schools, preventing access to education for 13,000 children.

Yemen: as cyclone weakens, UN warns more than 1 million people could be impacted by flooding

Cyclone Chapala damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes in Yemen. Photo: UNICEF Yemen/Ahmed Tani

Cyclone Chapala damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes in Yemen. Photo: UNICEF Yemen/Ahmed Tani

4 November 2015

While the United Nations is reporting that Cyclone Chapala – the rare tropical storm that slammed into Yemen’s southern coast yesterday, dumping perhaps a year’s worth of rain in some areas – is expected to weaken to a tropical depression over the next 12 hours, the immediate concern remains the welfare of an estimated 1 million people, mainly in the two governorates of Shabwah and Hadramaut.

“The UN and its partners are using all available routes into the affected areas to deliver assistance: from Aden as the principle dispatch hub and Sana’a as an alternate; and from Djibouti by sea and from the east from Oman by road and sea,” UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

He also said that the World Health Organization (WHO) has provided 20,000 litres of diesel fuel to eight hospitals in Mukallah – the country’s fifth largest city – and 2,500 litres of petrol for 16 ambulances.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WHO surveillance rapid response teams are also being deployed and a WHO shipment by sea with an additional 18.3 metric tonnes of medical supplies and reproductive health kits is also being deployed from Djibouti to Aden.

Meanwhile, three deaths and 34 injuries were reported earlier by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Cyclone Chapala made landfall in Yemen while fighting between the Government and rebel Houthi forces in the country continues. Since March 2015, the crisis has been an all-out conflict, with a military operation launched by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

Armed conflict has spread rapidly across much of the country, with devastating consequences for civilians. Partners now estimate that 21.1 million people – 80 per cent of the population – require some form of humanitarian protection or assistance. This represents a 33 per cent increase in needs since the conflict began, says OCHA.

The UN relief wing’s most recent update notes that the storm’s impact will be most severe in Shabwah and Hadramaut governorates. “These two governorates have a combined population of about 1.9 million people, 76 per cent (1.4 million) of whom are already in need of humanitarian assistance according to the 2015 Yemen Humanitarian Needs Overview.”

“Initial reports suggest more than 40,000 people displaced or temporarily evacuated from coastal areas and at least 450 homes damaged or destroyed,” OCHA said in the update.

Based on reports from Socotra, three people died and nine were injured in the flooding. At the same, some 20,000 people were reportedly evacuated from coastal areas, and close to 400 homes have been destroyed. Officials in Shabwah also reported that 6,000 people had moved to higher ground to avoid anticipated flooding and potential rock falls.

“Meteorologists forecast the Chapala will weaken as it continues north-west towards the capital Sana’a,” notes the update, adding that “sustained winds of 118 km/h are expected and the trailing edge of the storm system will continue to bring heavy precipitation to coastal areas for the next 24 to 48 hours.”

According to OCHA, UN Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) has prepositioned stocks and has launched a response to the severe impact in Yemen. “A number of different aid delivery routes into the affected areas are being utilized.” HCT indicated that in the report.

The HCT has primarily been moving supplies from existing stockpiles in Aden along the coastal roads to Mukalla. They will use supplies from the Humanitarian Response Depot (HRD) in Dubai and the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team (UNDAC) in Oman to the coastal area.

Yemen crisis worsening as 30 civilians die every day

Smoke fills the sky above the Yemeni capital Sana'a. File Photo: Almigdad Mojalli/IRIN

Smoke fills the sky above the Yemeni capital Sana’a. File Photo: Almigdad Mojalli/IRIN

15 September 2015 – United Nations Radio

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Fighting in Yemen claims 30 lives a day and injures nearly 200, the UN said Tuesday, while also warning that the country’s humanitarian crisis continues to worsen.

Warning of critical shortages in vital fuel and medical imports, the UN agency behind the alert, OCHA, also highlighted ongoing destruction of hospitals and schools.

It reports that more than 21 million people in Yemen – 80 per cent of the population – now require protection or aid as fighting continues between forces loyal to exiled president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Houthi rebels.

Maria Carlino has more.

Fighting has spread rapidly across much of Yemen since mid-March with devastating consequences for civilians, the UN humanitarian agency, OCHA, says.

According to its findings, 30 civilians are killed every day and 185 are injured by the conflict.

OCHA also warns over the continued destruction of hospitals, mosques and schools.

But equally worrying are critical shortages of fuel after imports met just 12 per cent of the country’s needs in August.

A lack of medicines is also severely hampering Yemen’s healthcare needs.

Here’s OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke:

“Depletion of medicines and fuel continues to be a very big problem, fuel particularly to run hospital generators is problematic. As you may know, Yemen relies for its fuel requirements for 70 per cent on imports, and 100 per cent of its medicines are imported; there’s no production in country.”

The decrease in shipments to Yemen is linked to damage to the main ports including Al Hudaydah, but also an unwillingness by commercial  shipping companies to berth in Yemen amid continued insecurity.

OCHA also warns that Yemen has become one of the world’s most dangerous countries to work in with at least seven journalists killed there this year, compared with two in 2014.

Maria Carlino, United Nations.

Yemen: UN emergency fund releases $15 million for critical aid operations

The Sea Athena arrived and unloaded a large shipment of wheat in Al-Saleef port in northwestern Yemen which will provide enough to feed more than 1 million people for two months. Photo: WFP

The Sea Athena arrived and unloaded a large shipment of wheat in Al-Saleef port in northwestern Yemen which will provide enough to feed more than 1 million people for two months. Photo: WFP

4 September 2015

The head of the United Nations humanitarian wing today released an emergency allocation of $15 million to help alleviate the “almost incomprehensible” scale of human suffering in Yemen where a “shocking” four out of every five Yemenis are lacking in such basic items for survival as clean water, food, fuel, and medicines.

“The civilian population is bearing the brunt of the conflict: a shocking four out of five Yemenis require humanitarian assistance and nearly 1.5 million people are internally displaced,” said Stephen O’Brien, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP), which is trying to expand assistance in Yemen to reach the more than 6 million people who require food aid announced today that enough wheat to feed more than 1 million for two months has arrived.

WFP said the wheat from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) arrived at the Al-Saleef port in north-western Yemen and is being milled into flour at the port.

The announcement by Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that Mr. O’Brien released an additional $15 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), bringing support for humanitarian operations in Yemen to more than $44 million in 2015.

According OCHA, the provision of basic services, including water, sanitation and healthcare, has been severely disrupted.

“Despite these immense challenges and safety concerns, relief organizations on the ground are working hard to reach people in need,” according OCHA.

“This latest allocation from CERF will help reduce the risk of communicable diseases through waste clean-up, the provision of clean water and urgent supplies for health facilities,” it said “CERF funds will be used for demining and the removal of unexploded ordnance, which will increase the safety of civilians and expand humanitarian space to reach people in need. People who have fled their homes will also receive household supplies such as mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets and water buckets.”

The conflict in Yemen intensified in March this year and aid agencies have since received over $44 million from CERF for critical assistance, including the provision of fuel, medicine, clean water, sanitation services and nutrition, OCHA said.

The CERF grants have been used to scale-up humanitarian air services and improve port facilities, facilitating the delivery of lifesaving assistance to affected communities.

“CERF continues to provide a lifeline for humanitarian operations in Yemen, but more funds are urgently needed,” Mr. O’Brien said. “I urge donors to continue supporting relief efforts in Yemen.”

The Fund pools donor contributions in a single fund so that money is available to start or continue urgent relief work anywhere in the world. Since its inception in 2006, 125 UN Member States and dozens of private sector donors and regional authorities have contributed to the Fund. CERF has allocated more than $4 billion in support of humanitarian operations in 95 countries and territories.

Yemen: UN calls for unimpeded access to people in need while fighting intensifies

Girls fetching water in Mawyah district, Taiz,Yemen. This role often falls on the shoulders of girls and young women, often at the expense of their education. Photo: OCHA

Girls fetching water in Mawyah district, Taiz,Yemen. This role often falls on the shoulders of girls and young women, often at the expense of their education. Photo: OCHA

3 September 2015

Air strikes, armed confrontation and looting across Taiz governorate in Yemen have exacerbated an already desperate situation, dramatically escalating humanitarian suffering, the United Nations relief wing warned today, urging unimpeded access to those in need.

Densely populated, Taiz was already one of the most vulnerable of the 22 governorates in the country, with 1.8 million people targeted by the UN for humanitarian assistance.

In its latest crisis update, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that from 14 to 27 August, at least 95 civilians, including 52 children and 20 women, were killed, and 129 civilians, including 14 women and 36 children, were injured by indiscriminate airstrikes and shelling.

The city of Taiz is being described by the UN “as a battleground,” with people caught between the frontlines and unable to find safety and security. Private homes are reportedly being destroyed as punishment for perceived support for opposing parties.

In addition, OCHA is warning that the health system across the governorate has nearly collapsed due to the damage to health infrastructure caused by the conflict and the lack of fuel, medicines and hospital supplies. None of the six public hospitals in the governorate are operational, with the exception of the emergency unit and the kidney ward at the Al-Thawrah and Al-Jumhouri hospitals.

Meanwhile, in violation of international humanitarian law, militants reportedly seized the Yemen International Hospital in Taiz and its ambulances on 24 August. According to OCHA, they forced all 80 patients, 20 of them in the intensive care unit, out of the hospital.

Further exacerbating the public health outlook in Taiz, an extreme spike in cases of dengue fever has been recorded in the last two weeks with 432 cases as of 25 August. The city’s inhabitants are also at greater risk of contracting communicable diseases due to solid waste piling up on the sides of roads.

The UN is reiterating its call today for predictable, safe, and unimpeded access to communities in need in the whole governorate, to deliver the much needed life-saving assistance to those who it says continue to suffer in Taiz.

In Yemen, top UN relief official warns of funding shortfalls for civilian aid

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien, on visit to Yemen, talks with an elderly man who said his home burnt to the ground during fighting. Photo: OCHA

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien, on visit to Yemen, talks with an elderly man who said his home burnt to the ground during fighting. Photo: OCHA

13 August 2015

The international community must step up its funding of relief efforts in Yemen and help in delivering critical aid to civilians amid the country’s protracted civil conflict, the top United Nations humanitarian official has declared.

Delivering his remarks to the press in the port city of Aden at the conclusion of a special visit to the war-torn Gulf country, Stephen O’Brien, the UN Under-Secretary General for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told reporters yesterday that providing assistance to the millions in need was becoming increasingly difficult for aid workers due to intensifying violence and funding shortfalls.

“The scaling up of assistance and the full-fledged return of all our staff to Aden is made extremely difficult by the destruction and looting of the UN premises and assets,” declared Mr. O’Brien. “We cannot assist the people in Aden if we do not have offices, vehicles and the knowledge that our staff can work in safety and security.”

According to OCHA, almost 7 million people have received some form of assistance from April to July throughout all of Yemen. In Aden alone, over 280,000 people have had access to quality health care services; nearly 240,000 people have received emergency food assistance and over 16,000 people emergency shelter. At the same time, an estimated 21 million people, or 80 per cent of the population, currently require some form of live-saving assistance.

The indiscriminate violence, said Mr. O’Brien, had left him “utterly appalled” by the lack of protection of civilians by all parties.To this day, in fact, the fighting in Yemen has taken a heavy toll on civilians, more than 1,895 of whom have been killed since March.

“What we need is peace,” he added. “The dialogue of weapons needs to be replaced by the dialogue of words. There is no military solution to this conflict.”

However, with only 18 per cent of the $1.6 billion humanitarian appeal for Yemen currently funded, the OCHA chief also warned that relief efforts were at risk of being “hampered” due to a sharp reduction in resources.

“Donors have not responded with the funding that is needed to cover the enormous humanitarian needs in the country,” he continued. “Donors need to show their solidarity with the Yemeni people and provide us with timely funding to cover the enormous needs in the whole country and notably cities like Aden, that have suffered so badly during the last four months.”

Yemen: amid food crisis, UN expert warns of deliberate starvation of civilians

WFP distributes food in Madinat Al Shaab district Yemen, in August 2015. Since April 2015, WFP has reached more than 2 million conflict-affected and severely food insecure people in thirteen of Yemen’s governorates. Photo: WFP/Ammar Bamatraf

WFP distributes food in Madinat Al Shaab district Yemen, in August 2015. Since April 2015, WFP has reached more than 2 million conflict-affected and severely food insecure people in thirteen of Yemen’s governorates. Photo: WFP/Ammar Bamatraf

11 August 2015

As Yemen plunges deeper into conflict, the country now finds itself in the midst of a major food crisis, a United Nations expert said today as she expressed her deep concern over possibly deliberate starvation of civilians.

“As the conflict continues to escalate, over 12.9 million people in Yemen are now surviving without adequate access to basic food supplies, including six million who are deemed severely food insecure,” warned Hilal Elver, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, in a press release issued earlier this morning.

The situation facing children in the country is particularly alarming, she stressed, with reports suggesting that 850,000 of them face acute malnutrition – a figure that is expected to rise to 1.2 million over the coming weeks, if the conflict persists as its present level.

Sieges in a number of governorates, including Aden, Al Dhali, Lahj and Taiz, have been preventing staple food items, such as wheat, from reaching the civilian population, while airstrikes have reportedly targeted local markets and trucks laden with food items.

“The deliberate starvation of civilians in both international and internal armed conflict may constitute a war crime, and could also constitute a crime against humanity in the event of deliberate denial of food and also the deprivation of food sources or supplies,” Ms. Elver continued. “The right to food does not cease in times of conflict, indeed it becomes more crucial as a result of the acute vulnerabilities in which individuals find themselves.”

The UN expert explained that in a country that relies on imports for 80 per cent of its food intake, current restrictions have resulted in steep price hikes, which, combined with increases in the price of diesel by some 47 per cent, are having a “devastating impact” on food security.

In addition, she said that both “an immediate and unconditional” humanitarian pause in hostilities and a boost in relief funding would be needed to prevent “a deepening national catastrophe in Yemen.”

“I call on the international community to do everything possible to provide on an emergency basis the necessary funding as well as essential aid,” concluded Ms. Elver.

According to the latest data released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the ongoing conflict in Yemen has taken a heavy toll on civilians, more than 1,895 of whom have been killed by fighting since March. More than 15 million people have no access to basic healthcare, while half the population does not have enough food to feed their families.

MEDIA ADVISORY – UN HUMANITARIAN CHIEF STEPHEN O’BRIEN TO VISIT YEMEN & DJIBOUTI

WHO:        Stephen O’Brien, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
WHAT:         Mission to Yemen and Djibouti
WHEN:         9-13 August 2015
WHERE:         Sana’a, Aden, Amran; Djibouti
UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien is scheduled to visit Yemen and Djibouti from 9 to 13 August to see for himself the catastrophic humanitarian impact of the conflict in Yemen, and assess measures needed to ensure aid agencies can scale up and meet people’s growing needs.

Some 80 per cent of the Yemeni  population – about 21 million people – now need some kind of humanitarian assistance and more than 1,895 civilians have been killed by fighting since March. More than 15 million people have no access to basic healthcare, while half the population do not have enough food to feed their families. The high number of civilian deaths and injuries is a shocking testament to the suffering and lack of protection faced by the civilians caught up in the violence.

Aid agencies need rapid, safe and predictable access to reach people with the basics they desperately need. USG O’Brien is expected to meet key officials in Sana’a and Aden to discuss ways of strengthening the aid operation to save lives and protect civilians. He hopes to meet families in Amran and Aden who have been displaced by the conflict. Mr. O’Brien is also expected to meet senior officials in Djibouti on his return.

Press encounters are expected to be held in Sana’a and Aden, details to be confirmed, and there will be other opportunities for interviews.

For further details of press conferences and other interview opportunities during the mission, please contact:

Philippe Kropf, OCHA Yemen, Cell +967 712222819, kropf@un.org  
Amanda Pitt, OCHA New York, Cell +1 917 442 1810, pitta@un.org

Amanda Pitt | Chief, Media Relations/Spokesperson | United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) | New York
Tel: +1 212 963 4129 | Mob: +1 917 442 1810 | E-mail: pitta@un.org | Skype: AJPitt1
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