WFP/Marco Frattini
WFP aims to provide urgent assistance via food distributions and vouchers to nearly seven million people in Yemen.

3.1 million

internally displaced people and returnees

17 million

food-insecure people

2.2 million

acutely malnourished children

The Situation

Even before conflict broke out in March 2015, Yemen ranked as the 10th most food-insecure nation in the world. Limited access to food is compounded by a number of factors, including the effects of low incomes, large family sizes, high unemployment, limited education, gender disparities, poorly integrated food markets and more. Because of volatile food, fuel, and financial markets, 44 percent of the population is currently estimated to be living in poverty and 72 percent is need of some form of humanitarian assistance.

The lack of immediate access to people who urgently need food assistance—compounded by a shortage of funding—As a result, millions of people in Yemen are on the brink of famine, mainly women and children. Today, some 17 million people in this war-torn country — two-thirds of the population — don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Yemen also has one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world.

World Food Programme's Work

The World Food Programme (WFP) has been present in Yemen since 1967.

WFP launched an emergency operation in October 2015, and it is currently scaling up support. In October 2017, WFP provided food assistance to more than 7.2 million people in Yemen. This is a combination of:

  • Providing food assistance and, where markets are functioning, food vouchers to speed up the delivery of assistance to vulnerable families while helping to revive economic activity. Each voucher provides a family of six with a one-month supply of wheat grain, pulses, vegetable oil, salt, sugar and Wheat Soya Blend, a protein-rich blended food.
  • Providing curative and preventive nutrition for children under age five and pregnant and nursing mothers.

In partnership with the government and other partners, WFP continues to provide monthly food assistance to more than 9,000 refugees — mainly from the Horn of Africa — at Kharaz camp in southern Yemen.

A recent cholera outbreak is having a significant impact on an already beleaguered population. Malnourished children have compromised immune systems and are at least three times more likely to die if they contract the disease. WFP is working with the national Ministry of Public Health and Planning, World Health Organization and UNICEF to address the waterborne bacteria with food, clean water and best sanitation practices in over 100 treatment centers. The agency has been using its logistical expertise to transport medical supplies, humanitarian assistance and aid workers around the country.

Because of funding shortfalls, WFP is having to make tough decisions on who gets more food than others. At the launch of the current emergency operation, the agency planned to provide food assistance to more than 9 million people, but so far this has not been possible. Furthermore, of the 7.2 million people who were assisted in October 2017, only half received a full food ration and the other half a 60 percent ration — all due to the funding shortage.

WFP aid workers have seen children in Hodeidah — where malnutrition rates are among the worst in the country — who are sometimes too weak to open their mouths and eat the specialized foods they are given to treat malnourishment. Many children are feather-light, their skin is pale and most of do not have much energy.

Without assistance, parents are saying they must rely on bread and tea to feed themselves and their children. Many have either uncertain incomes or have lost their incomes entirely.

On the recent humanitarian blockade in Yemen, the leaders of WFP, UNICEF and the World Health Organization issued an urgent appeal for the entry of lifesaving humanitarian supplies.

“The supplies, which include medicines, vaccines and food, are essential to staving off disease and starvation. Without them, untold thousands of innocent victims, among them many children, will die.”

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