Food aid for Houthi-controlled Yemen to be halved as Covid-19 strikes

A funding crisis has seen parts of Houthi-controlled Yemen have its aid halved by The World Food Programme. In the midst of what has been described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, families caught in the middle of the raging war in Yemen will receive aid every other month, rather than monthly. The UN has stated that, due to concerns over the obstruction of deliveries by Houthi forces, some donors have stopped their aid.

Over 12 million Yemenis a month are fed by The World Food Programme (WFP), an agency sector of the UN, and 80% of these people are in Houthi-controlled areas, many of which were seized over five years ago.

It is reported that over 100,000 people have been killed in the brutal and bloody conflict that continues to grip Yemen. The Yemeni forces have been engaged in fighting with groups backed by Saudi Arabia and eight other Arab states. The UN’s senior representative in Yemen, Lise Grande, said: “The lack of funds would affect every aspect of the UN’s assistance in the world’s biggest humanitarian aid operation as the threat of coronavirus looms”. She stated: “It couldn’t come at a worse time with Covid-19 threatening”. 

On 10 April, Yemen reported its first case of coronavirus, striking fear into the hearts of humanitarian agencies. The International Rescue Committee called it a “nightmare scenario” and Oxfam labelled it a “devastating blow”. Yemen must now face multiple crises at once, as only half of the country’s hospitals are fully functional, despite the growing numbers of those affected by diseases such as cholera, dengue and malaria, and the increasingly devastating humanitarian crisis. However, the Saudi-led coalition, a day before news of the virus, began a ceasefire with Houthi rebels in an attempt to help stop the spread of the contagion and support UN peace efforts.

 It is yet to be seen the extent to which the nation gripped in civil war will now have to cope with a Covid-19 outbreak. However, the Middle-Eastern country lacks the basic infrastructure to handle such a crisis and, with aid being halved in the midst of its humanitarian emergency, Yemen now faces a ‘nightmare scenario’ that is likely to cause havoc in a country already shadowed by tragedy.

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William Warnes

Global Editor - 2019/20

Co-Deputy Editor - 2020/21

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September 2021
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