On 25 January 2017 the group FEWSNET reported data showing the harsh reality of famine was looming in four areas of the world: Northeast Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen and Somalia.
It’s led to a situation today some are calling the worst humanitarian crisis the world has faced since World War II.
Yemen isn’t officially in famine, despite an estimated 17 million people facing food insecurity. Specific statistical conditions (known as IPCs) need to be met for famine to be declared. However because of the length and nature of the war it’s very hard to get accurate data from rural parts of the country, so it could be that pockets of famine are happening right now.
Speaking to reporters earlier this month, Jan Egeland from the Norwegian Refugee Council went as far as saying Yemen is facing a famine of ‘biblical’ proportions. On a visit to the Yemeni capital Sanaa, he said the crisis was not getting the international attention it needs because very few journalists or diplomats can get into the country.
A nation in crisis
Intense bombing has left many of Yemen’s medical facilities out of action and few people can afford to travel to hospital to receive care. A recent outbreak of Cholera is already claiming lives, and there are few medicines available within the country to treat the sick.
Reporting on the economic situation in Yemen is hard, with little official data available. But according to the World Bank, the country’s GDP has contracted by about 40 per cent since 2015 (the start of the conflict). Public sector workers haven’t been paid for over eight months, further evidence of the economic and social crisis here.
Despite the overwhelming crisis, most Yemenis are unable to leave, with much of the country either bordered by sea, Saudi Arabia or a desert. People’s only option is to stay where they are, as the country continues to struggle.
Tearfund has two partner organisations working on the ground in Yemen. They’ve been greatly helped by the £1.5 million raised last December in Tearfund’s Yemen Crisis Appeal (alongside the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal). Despite extreme difficulties with access and national insecurity they are doing what they can to implement a number of life-saving activities. These include:
- water and sanitation projects
- providing food baskets to vulnerable households
- installing water supply and rainwater capture systems
- helping import vital medicines into the country
Megan Howe, Tearfund’s Programme Officer for Yemen, tells us: ‘We are so thankful for the generosity of our supporters – this money is helping us reach some of the world’s most vulnerable families living in conflict. Yemen remains the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with millions facing starvation. We are privileged to work with partners who, despite the difficult environment, continue to provide food and clean water to families in need.’