A “perfect storm” in Yemen is causing a very serious food emergency

July 27, 2020

A “perfect storm” is gathering over Yemen, the troubled Middle Eastern republic brought to its knees by economic shocks, armed clashes, floods, desert locusts, and, now, by the new coronavirus. The alarm, highlighted by the latest analysis of the Integrated Food Safety Classification Framework (IPC), is the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Fund for Childhood (UNICEF) and the World Food Program (WFP), authors of the report together with other local partners.

So far, international analysts surveyed 133 southern Yemeni districts, with disarming results: the number of people exposed to acute food insecurity levels, that is, who will fall into the “crisis” or “food emergency” categories, will dramatically increase by the end of the year. In practice, all the progress made in the food field in Yemen in recent years, aimed at contrasting the effects of the civil conflict, the famine, the cholera epidemic, the penetration of various terrorist organizations risk to be frustrated.

Last year, food insecurity was reduced through articulated food assistance interventions, if the number of people assisted rises from 2 million to 3.2 million in the next six months, as the United Nations warns, the scenario would be apocalyptic. In detail, it would go from 25 percent of the population at risk of food insecurity, for the period February-April, to 40 percent between July and December.

And this despite the protracted humanitarian intervention. The economic decline is the first killer factor: the Yemeni currency continues to lose value, while the financial crisis shows no sign of abating. And it could not be otherwise, given that the civil war has been raging since the spring of 2015. Now then the Covid-19 pandemic jeopardizes the availability of food, access to groceries in the markets, the opportunity to earn a living and support your family.

Yemen is increasingly isolated, between delays in imports, logistic barriers, market disturbances. As for remittances from citizens abroad, they have dropped by 20 percent. Meanwhile, in the desert areas, the presence of locusts and Lafigma due to favourable climatic conditions, is growing. Rains and floods have already affected large Yemeni regions.

According to the UN, in the coming months, tropical cyclones will also lower on the coasts of the Arabian Peninsula.To date, the death rate from new coronavirus in the country has marked an “alarming” increase, UN agencies report, more than 27 percent, five times higher than the world average.

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