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FAO chief urges help for Yemen's farmers, fishers

03 giugno 2020 | 16.58
LETTURA: 2 minuti

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Photo for The Washington Post by Luis Tato

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) director-general Qu Dongyu has appealed for 100 million dollars of urgent aid to ease the plight of desperate farmers, herders, fishers and their families in Yemen.

"Millions of people are unable to meet their basic needs," Qu said in an address to the virtual High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen.

Yemen is currently facing the world's largest humanitarian crisis as the civil war, economic crisis and institutional collapse have left 24 million people - some 80 percent of the population - in need of humanitarian aid. The country is also battling a severe Desert Locust outbreak and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Farmers, fishers and herders - crucial to the impoverished country's food supply - have all been hit hard by the five-year-old conflict and the resulting economic decline, Qu said.

"We must act now, we need your support," Qu told donors.

"There is no time to wait," he underlined.

FAO wants to reach 6 million people and distribute emergency livelihood-assistance - seeds, tools, coolboxes, life jackets and cash - to enable farmers and fishers to keep producing and continue livestock rearing, Qu stated.

Vaccinations and treatment for livestock, surveillance and control of plant pests, including Desert Locust, would benefit 4.2 million people, Qu said.

Assistance needs to be scaled up for Yemen to enable its farmers, herders and fishers to produce food to feed themselves, their families and their communities, he stated.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, Yemen was on the brink of catastrophe, Qu underlined. Nearly 16 million people were at risk of famine even before the pandemic began - over half of the country's entire population, according to the 2020 Global Report on Food Crises.

Violence escalated in Yemen in March 2015 and over 200 humanitarian organisations are now working together to assist more than 13 million people across the country every month.

Millions of people lack access to adequate food, water and sanitation and official figures show that Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in 10 of the country's 22 governorates.

Opening Tuesday's pledging conference, UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres called for an end to the deadly conflict in Yemen.

Without increased funding, the UN will have to end several humanitarian programmes in Yemen, Guterres warned.

The virtual conference was organised by the UN in partnership with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

FAO has been working in Yemen to boost and safeguard food and livestock production, provide animal feed and beekeeping kits, vaccinations and treatment for livestock, and assist home poultry production and dairy processing.

FAO provided humanitarian assistance to 3 million people in Yemen last year and more than 3.6 million animals were protected through animal health campaigns, the UN agency said.

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