SANA’A – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is warning that the recent five-day “humanitarian pause” in Yemen was not long enough to reach all those in need of food and other relief supplies, and is appealing for a series of predictable breaks in the conflict to deliver desperately needed aid.
WFP dispatched food for more than 400,000 people in the 72-hour pause, and managed to reach areas that were previously inaccessible, but this was only half the 738,000 people it hoped to reach. Transporters were reluctant to send their trucks to hotspots, where fighting and shelling continued.
“We raced against time and a volatile situation on the ground during this short window of opportunity that allowed us to only reach half of our target,” said WFP Representative and Country Director in Yemen Purnima Kashyap. “We are seriously concerned about families out of our reach. We need predictable pauses in fighting to allow us to line up partners on the ground to move food and reach the maximum number of people.”
During the pause that ended on Sunday, WFP dispatched food assistance to some 400,000 people in Aden, Lahj, Abyan, Al-Dhale’e, Shabwa, Hajja and northern parts of Sa’ada. The pause allowed WFP to link up with partners in some areas where WFP had never worked prior to the conflict. But more predictable windows of opportunity are required to allow for effective planning and coordination in the coming weeks.
While the ceasefire was largely observed in central and northern parts of the country, clashes and insecurity persisted in the South and in Sa’ada in the North. Some districts, where needs are highest, were completely unreachable, with transporters wary of sending trucks.
“As time passes without reaching people in hot spots their situation will only get worse and the needs will increase,” Kashyap added.
Almost half of the population in Yemen were food-insecure even before the conflict, meaning that around 10 million people did not know where their next meal would come from. The United Nations estimates that the conflict has pushed many more Yemenis into hunger.
Before the upsurge in fighting began in March, WFP was assisting each month an average of 4 million vulnerable people in Yemen. Since 15 April, when the conflict broke out, WFP has delivered emergency food assistance to more than 1.7 million people struggling to survive in the hardest-hit parts of the country; almost two-thirds of them are women and children under five.
Yemen imports almost 90 percent of its food from abroad. WFP is extremely concerned that the impact of traders being unable to import food and transport it around the country will affect people’s ability to feed their families.
# # #
WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 75 countries.
Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media & @wfp_mena
For more information please contact (email address: email@example.com):
Abeer Etefa, WFP/Cairo, Mob. +2 01066634352
Reem Nada, WFP/Cairo, Mob. + 2 01066634522
Peter Smerdon, WFP/Rome, Mob. + 39 342 878 4107
Elisabeth Byrs, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41 22 917 8564, Mob. +41 79 473 4570
Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel. +44 20 72409001, Mob. +44 7968 008474
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-646-5566909, Mob. +1-646-8241112