GENEVA, Sept 20 (KUNA) -- - The World Food Program WFP on Friday announced that new numbers from the August distribution cycle in Yemen indicate that the UN has reached a record 12.4 million food-insecure people with food assistance in August.
"This is the highest number ever reached", said Herve Verhoosel, WFP Sr. Spokesperson in a press briefing in the United Nations Office in Geneva.
"Importing, storing and transporting food to feed over 12 million people a month in a complex war zone is a major logistical undertaking. To achieve this, we need to maintain a constant flow of food into the country. Breaks in the pipeline of incoming food undermine our ability to provide this assistance. Maintaining donor support is crucial", he added.
Verhoosel explained that WFP needs USD 600 million to ensure uninterrupted food assistance for the next six months until February 2020.
"Without more funding, WFP will have no choice but reduce food rations to families from October. We need to have a constant flow of food coming into Yemen", he explained.
With 20.1 million food insecure people out of a total population of 30 million Yemenis, we must ensure that each month WFP can provide the assistance so desperately needed by millions of hungry people."
WFP is facing a significant funding shortfall and without immediate contributions we will have to reduce food rations to millions of Yemenis from October.
"We have a three-to-four month lead-time in Yemen to import and then transport enough food to feed the millions in Yemen who rely on WFP assistance. We need to have a constant flow of commodities coming into Yemen to ensure that each month we can get food to the most vulnerable", he said.
From May through July, WFP reached more than 11 million people each month with food assistance. The August distribution cycle has just closed, and because it runs from mid-month to mid-month, we will have final numbers for August in the next few days.
"The humanitarian community cannot slow the pace of assistance now. The coordinated response of the entire humanitarian community has so far prevented catastrophe in Yemen, but if these interventions stop or are severely hampered the situation would immediately deteriorate", Verhoosel said.
According to the WFP, the conflict in Yemen remains the key driver of food insecurity. Twenty million Yemenis - some 70 percent of the population - are food insecure.
Collapse of the currency and labour market caused by the ongoing conflict has stretched people's coping mechanisms and pushed millions to the brink.
A recent food security (IPC Hotspot) analysis published at the end of July shows a slight improvement in the worst hit areas. This is thanks to a massive scale-up of humanitarian assistance in these districts: WFP has more than doubled food assistance in these areas. Seasonal production has also improved, providing families with better access to food.
The payment of incentives to teachers and other public sector workers, the rehabilitation of hospitals and clinics, the monthly provision of food assistance to over a third of the population and cholera prevention efforts have saved lives.
However, malnutrition rates among women and children in Yemen remain among the highest in the world, with 3.2 million women and children requiring treatment for acute malnutrition. Malnutrition does irreparable damage to a child's growth, meaning its effects will be felt long after the conflict has ended. (end)