A two-month ceasefire has allowed aid organizations to increase aid to Yemen‘s hungry millions, but if violence resumes or humanitarian funding does not increase, malnutrition among Yemen‘s children is expected to rise.
“The effects of the first weeks of the cease-fire are already enormous,” said Erin Hutchinson, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Yemen Director.
The organization was able to provide assistance to 12,000 people in a Hajjah district that had not been reached in over three years.
Yemen’s economy has been decimated by more than seven years of conflict, which has displaced millions and pushed food prices out of reach for many. Global grain and commodity prices are surging, putting even more pressure on the industry.
“Tens of millions of people in Yemen are on the verge of starvation,” said Richard Ragan of the World Food Programme (WFP), which is attempting to feed half of Yemen’s 30 million people in one of its largest-ever programs.
Jiad Jalal, one year old, is stunted and weakened by acute malnutrition, and his skin is dry and wrinkled across his projecting skull, limbs, and stomach.
Jalal, who lives in a makeshift displacement camp in Khadish, Hajjah, one of Yemen’s poorest regions, is one of 2.2 million children under the age of five who will suffer acute malnutrition this year, according to UN projections made before the ceasefire.
“We only eat what we can obtain from assistance organizations. Wheat, beans, and similar foods are examples. If we don’t get food, we eat on certain days and go hungry on others “Zahra Ahmed, his grandmother, said.
“We’re caught in the middle of hunger and tiredness. Consider the children “She said, gesturing to Jalal, who they couldn’t afford to transport to Sanaa for treatment.
According to the United Nations’ March data, hunger and malnutrition have deteriorated this year, with the organization projecting that the number of people unable to obtain minimum nourishment will reach a new high of 19 million between June and December, up from 17.4 million today.
According to the United Nations’ Integrated Food Security Phase Classification analysis, the number of people facing famine-like conditions might rise from 31,000 to 161,000.
Women at a tattered shelter camp in al-Mahra, Yemen’s east, lit outdoor fires to cook dough balls for children to eat and put bread into hot clay ovens.
“To feed the children, we grownups must be patient and go hungry. If you could only see how sick I am because I only feed my children, you would understand “Fatima Qayed, a mother of 10, expressed her thoughts.
She claims that they only receive charity once a year during Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, and that they buy food by collecting and selling plastic cans, with meat being rare.
Seham Abdelhakim, a mother of four, is unable to procure milk, so she gives her small children sugar and water.
“I don’t eat much when I’m pregnant, just tea and bread… It’s the same way when I give birth; we don’t have any chicken or anything. All I want to do after giving birth is cuddle my child “Abdelhakim, 36, expressed his thoughts.
Hans Grundberg, the United Nations’ Yemen envoy, said this week that the two-month cease-fire, which began on April 2 to coincide with Ramadan, was largely holding, with a “substantial reduction of violence and civilian casualties.”
The cease-fire, which is the first statewide cease-fire since 2016, includes a halt to offensive military activities, as well as fuel imports into Houthi-controlled areas and some commercial flights from Houthi-controlled Sanaa.
Yemen Airways said this week that it will begin flying back and forth between Sanaa and Amman, Jordan, on Saturday.
Yemen’s oceans and airspace are controlled by a military coalition commanded by Saudi Arabia, which intervened in March 2015 to help Yemen’s government against the Houthis.
According to WFP’s Ragan, the ceasefire has allowed the WFP and commercial partners to intensify milling and distribution activity.
“(The cease-fire) is wonderful for Yemen, but it’s also good for the humanitarian operations that are sorely required to get up and running,” he said, noting that WFP activities are 60-75 days behind schedule owing to a prior uptick in violence.
In the event that peace does not allow Yemen’s economy to recover, at least 80% of the country will continue to rely on humanitarian aid.
However, the UN only received $1.3 billion in March for 2022, far less than the budgeted $4.27 billion. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the European Union have since pledged additional funds, but the situation remains grave.
Due to funding problems, the WFP has lowered rations for 8 million of the 13 million people it feeds each month since January.