GENEVA: The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) said Thursday it will nearly double food aid to Yemen to reach 14 million people a month – almost half the war-ravaged country’s population.
Yemen is in the grip of the world’s worst hunger crisis as government troops backed by a Saudi-led coalition battle Houthi rebels.
On Wednesday, 35 Yemeni and international NGOs called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in the impoverished country, and said 14 million people were “on the brink of famine”.
The WFP is providing food assistance to about seven to eight million people every day, “but the situation has now got so dire that WFP is preparing to scale up”, spokesperson Herve Verhoosel told journalists in Geneva on Thursday.
He added: “Indications are that even greater efforts will be needed to avert mass starvation. The new target of 14 million requires a huge amount of logistic work, outreach, funding and preparation.”
The WFP said the violence must stop immediately to give Yemen “a chance to pull back from the brink”.
“Unless it does, this will become a country of living ghosts, its people reduced to sacks of bones. Humanitarians can only do so much in the face of relentless bombing and unconscionable war tactics that spare no one.”
The WFP said it will need more money to provide food to all of those in need.
The budget for eight million people is about $125 million per month, but “as the food security situation deteriorates and WFP prepares to scale up its food and nutrition programmes, it is clear our funding requirements are set to increase accordingly”.