Majority of Yemen’s population will face food insecurity. Here is why

By Daniil Filipenco

Majority of Yemen’s population will face food insecurity. Here is why

The current levels of hunger in Yemen are unparalleled with millions of people starving because of extreme poverty. In spite of permanent flows of international aid, it is anticipated that by the end of the year nearly 19 million Yemenis out of the total population of 30 million of this Middle East country will lack normal access to food and one of the main reasons for this is the war in Ukraine.

Moreover, the situation with child malnutrition in the country is among the worst in the world and it is continually deteriorating. According to a poll, about 30% of households have dietary gaps and rarely consume vegetables, fruits, dairy, or meat.

According to data presented by the United Nations World Food Programme and UNICEF:

  • 17.4 million Yemenis lack proper access to food
  • Food insecurity will affect 19 million people
  • This year, over 20 million Yemenis will require humanitarian aid
  • Acute hunger today affects 3.5 million pregnant/breastfeeding Yemeni women and children aged five and under
  • 7.3 million individuals are predicted to reach extreme levels of hunger throughout the nation by the end of 2022

Fig.1. Humanitarian situation in Yemen


The cause of the Yemen starvation crisis

The fundamental cause of famine in Yemen is war. The economic turmoil that the conflict caused and the currency devaluation that occurred, as a result, have led to food prices skyrocketing. Since late 2014 when the civil war began, the economy of Yemen has been reduced by half and today over 80% of the population faces extreme poverty.

In addition, conflicting parties have also hindered the movement of fuel and goods around the nation.

Moreover, international aid experts anticipate that the war in Ukraine will cause substantial import disruptions, pushing up food prices in Yemen even further. It is of note that Yemen is almost totally reliant on imported food with 30% of all wheat being imported from Ukraine.

Experts believe that should Yemen not receive sufficient funding now then the whole country will fall into mass starvation.

Due to a budget constraint, the UN World Food Programme was obliged to lower the content of food parcels for eight million Yemenis at the start of 2022, with households getting only 50% of the WFP’s regular daily basic food basket. Now, a lack of financial aid is placing five million more Yemenis at risk of succumbing to famine-like conditions.

Yemen starvation deaths

Back in 2018 – three years after the conflict began – Save the Children reported that nearly 85,000 children aged five or under had died as a result of severe starvation. No official statistics can be found since then but aid workers warn that thousands of people “could die” without support.

Today, severe hunger in Yemen is on the rise, particularly among infants and their mothers. According to UNICEF Executive Director, Catherine Russell, children suffering from severe undernourishment could die unless they get therapeutic feeding support.

Without immediate assistance, at least 400,000 Yemeni children aged five or under could perish from hunger this year owing to the skyrocketing rates of acute malnutrition caused by war and the coronavirus epidemic.

Final word

According to the UN, the humanitarian disaster in Yemen is being neglected while the world concentrates on the conflict in Ukraine. Experts predict that this conflict will have a direct impact on Yemen’s already depleted food supplies.

By March 15, 2022, the UN had hoped to have raised over US$4.2 billion for the people of Yemen. However, by the time this deadline arrived, only one-third of this amount, US$1.3 billion, had been received.

UN authorities have expressed concern that not only will the world focus on Ukraine but that the current conflict in Europe will exacerbate Yemen’s famine catastrophe.