UN warns of 'catastrophic' crisis in Yemen

UN agency chiefs on March 14 stated that war-torn Yemen's hunger crisis is "teetering on the edge of outright catastrophe," with more than 17.4 million Yemenis facing food insecurity and an additional 1.6 million expected to fall into emergency levels of hunger in the coming months. The number experiencing "catastrophic" levels of hunger is projected to increase five times from the current 31,000 to a staggering 161,000, taking the number of those with emergency needs to 7.3 million by the end of 2022. "These harrowing figures confirm that we are on a countdown to catastrophe in Yemen and we are almost out of time to avoid it. Unless we receive substantial new funding immediately, mass starvation and famine will follow. But if we act now, there is still a chance to avert imminent disaster and save millions," World Food Programme executive director David Beasley said.

UNICEF meanwhile reported that nearly 2.3 million children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition, and an additional 500,000 children suffer from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition. The lack of food also endangers pregnant or nursing mothers, 1.3 million of whom are acutely malnourished, according to the newly released Integrated Phase Classification  (IPC) analysis on Yemen.

According to the IPC report, "conflict and economic crisis remain the main drivers of acute food insecurity and malnutrition in Yemen, further exacerbated by the instability of humanitarian assistance." The conflict, which escalated with the intervention of a Saudi-led coalition in 2015, has resulted in income instability, degradation of health, education and energy services, and water shortages.

The Ukrainian crisis also spells dire consequences for Yemen's alarming food insecurity. Yemen is dependent on Ukraine for 30% of its wheat imports. The war in Ukraine has caused "significant import shocks" and higher prices in Yemen.

Director-general of the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) Qu Dongyu reported that the agency is working directly with farmers to foster self-reliance and resilience, and decrease import dependency. 

Ahead of a High-Level Pledging Event on the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen this week, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen David Gressly said that funding is "urgently needed to sustain food and nutrition support, clean water, basic health care and protection."

UNICEF requires $484.4 million this year to address Yemen's humanitarian crisis.

UNICEF reports 47 children killed or maimed this year
UNICEF representative for Yemen Philippe Duamelle stated on March 12 that 47 children in the country have been killed or maimed in just the first two months of 2022.

UNICEF has verified that more than 10,200 children have been killed or injured in Yemen over the past seven years. The actual number is likely to be much higher. About two million children have been internally displaced, and thousands more have been recruited for fighting. 

Duamelle urged the parties to the conflict and other stakeholders to protect civilians, especially children:

Following the intensification of the conflict in 2021, violence has continued to escalate this year and as always children are the first and most to suffer.... Children's safety, their well-being and protection must be safeguarded at all times. Violence, misery and grief have been commonplace in Yemen with severe consequences on millions of children and families. It is high time that a sustainable political solution is reached for people and their children to finally live in the peace they so well deserve.

From Jurist, March 15; Jurist, March 14