Famine looming in war-torn Yemen

ConflictDisaster response and preparednessYemen

The threat of famine continues in Yemen, as the embattled nation remains in the grip of civil war.

On Friday (28 September), the head of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) declared that it remains the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Executive Director David Beasley told reporters in New York there ‘very well could be’ famine in remote areas of Yemen, which the WFP doesn’t have access to.

Fighting around Hodeidah port has had a big impact on the importing of food and medical supplies, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET).

Across the nation, 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian aid, and 8.4 million are at risk of starvation. It’s a number that’s expected to rise to 18 million this year if conditions don’t improve.

Last month the United Nations tried to negotiate a ceasefire, but planned talks never took place. 

Cholera continues
In 2017, Yemen saw the biggest cholera outbreak on record, with over one million cases reported.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 30% of all suspected cholera cases across Yemen are children under five years of age.

Severely malnourished children are far more likely to contract and die from diarrhoeal diseases like cholera than well-nourished children.

'The challenges for the people of Yemen, especially in the remote locations, are relentless.'

Kieren Barnes, Tearfund

Providing a lifeline
Tearfund partners are helping to provide families with clean water and hygiene materials to reduce the risk of illness and disease. 

This includes the construction of special rainwater cisterns.  The cisterns are holes dug in the ground and lined with bricks and cement. They can store rainwater for communities for several months. 

One of our partners is in the process of setting up an oral rehydration centre, in response to more recent cases of cholera.

The response also includes promoting good hygiene practices in households, schools, and mosques, as well as distributing water filters, cholera prevention kits, and food supplies. They are also building latrines and giving training in growing vegetables.

Kieren Barnes, Tearfund’s Middle East Response Director, says we must not let the Yemen crisis be forgotten:

‘The challenges for the people of Yemen, especially in the remote locations, are relentless. They have been living on the edge of famine for too long. We must do all we can to provide critical aid to those in need, in order to prevent further suffering from cholera and other diseases. 

‘Our partners are Yemenis themselves and are working tirelessly, committed to serving their communities and supporting the most vulnerable.’

Banner photo: Ibrahem Qasim

Andrew Horton

Andrew is Online News and Film Editor for Tearfund. This involves finding and writing up inspiring articles for the website, and capturing compelling stories on video.