The United Nations World Food Programme on Thursday appealed for an end to the devastating three-and-a-half-year civil war in Yemen, where a full-blown famine looms in what is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.
“What Yemen needs is peace,” said WFP executive director David Beasley. “Only then will it be possible to re-start the economy, get the currency under control and start paying public salaries, so people can have the money they need to buy food and other basics.”
In the face of rapidly escalating hunger, WFP is preparing to scale up to provide food and cash-based assistance for as many as 12 million people whose lives have been torn apart by the conflict, Beasley said.
WFP is already reaching 7-8 million people with food assistance every month, he stated.
“My heart is breaking after what I saw at the hospital in Hodeidah,” said Beasley, referring to Yemen's main port city,where the Saudi-led coalition last month launched an offensive against Iranian-aligned Shia Houthi rebels.
“Small children, so malnourished they’re little more than skin and bone, lying there with hardly the strength to breathe. In the name of humanity, I urge all warring parties to put an end to this horrific war. Let the children live and let the people start to rebuild their lives,” Beasely said.
Eightly percent of food imports to impoverished Yemen pass through Hodeidah. Almost 18 million people are considered hungry and 8.4 million severely hungry in Yemen, whose population is 29 million.
The cost of basic food items increased by 35 percent since last year, leaving many families unable to feed themselves, according to WFP.