New York, NY, December 3, 2020 — The International Rescue Committee is extremely concerned by the findings of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) that classified parts of Yemen as experiencing ‘famine like conditions’, with over 47,000 people projected to fall into this category in the next 6 months. Food insecurity and hunger had increased by 60% since April of this year, and in October of this year, child malnutrition was recorded as the highest it has ever been in some areas.
While food security for Yemenis declines, humanitarian access challenges increase. The UN has warned of a 50% increase in humanitarian access incidents in Yemen this year with 19.1 million people of those in need of aid (64 % of the population) living in hard to reach areas. This indicates that food insecurity in Yemen is worsening, while aid agencies face significant challenges in reaching those most in need.
Humanitarian needs in Yemen have continued to grow throughout 2020; driven by the escalating conflict and a worsening economic crisis, rising fuel prices, erratic weather shocks, and locust outbreaks. 90% of Yemen’s food is imported and the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted global supply chains, driving up food prices. This, coupled with an all time depreciation in the value of the Yemeni Rial, means that millions of Yemenis are not able to afford the food they and their families need. Moreover, humanitarian funding dropped significantly in 2020, forcing the WFP to halve food rations for 8.5 million people. As a result, 3 million fewer Yemenis were receiving aid each month by late 2020 compared to the response at the beginning of the year. Yemen has also seen a spike in airstrikes over the last few days with almost 50 airstrikes since Friday alone. Since the start of the conflict, airstrikes have killed over 18,500 civilians.
Tamuna Sabadze, IRC Yemen Country Director said:
“The clock is ticking, every day more Yemenis are pushed into famine. This classification is reflective of what we have been seeing - millions of Yemenis have endured unimaginable suffering since the conflict started. With the humanitarian response severely underfunded, destruction of infrastructure and access constraints, all parties to the conflict must uphold international humanitarian law to ensure we can reach those most in need.”
It is only through collective action that we can prevent Yemen falling into an all-out famine. The IRC continues to call on global powers to meet the growing needs in Yemen through commitment to achieving the humanitarian response plan target which is still funded at only 50%, and providing an essential rescue package to support Yemen’s collapsing economy.
The IRC has been working in Yemen since 2012 and rapidly scaled our programming in 2015 to address greater humanitarian needs caused by the conflict. While the ongoing conflict, COVID-19 pandemic, and restriction of air and seaports create challenges to our operations, the IRC has maintained access to affected populations and continues to provide life-saving healthcare, economic empowerment, women’s protection and empowerment and education programming.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and over 20 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.