Oxfam calls for urgent action in Yemen as hunger escalates

Published: 14th March 2012

Yemen is at the crossroads of humanitarian catastrophe international aid agency Oxfam said today in reaction to new figures from the World Food Programme, which showed a radical increase in the number of people facing severe hunger in the country.

The new figures indicate that 45 percent of population in Yemen do not have enough to eat - more than 10 million people with half of these people severely food insecure and in need of urgent emergency aid. Previous UN surveys in January 2012 found one in three children acutely malnourished in Hodeidah and Hajjah, levels comparable with some areas of Somalia.  The UN appeal for the country is just 15 percent funded.

Joy Singhal, manager of Oxfam’s humanitarian response in Yemen said:

“For years, the deteriorating crisis in Yemen has been ignored – and now the country is at breaking point. Hunger now extends beyond the conflict zones in the north and the south of the country – and is at risk of becoming a normal part of life. In Hajjah, families report forcing their children to sleep during the day and night to avoid the hunger pains."
“Some donors have questioned whether aid can get through in Yemen, but Oxfam’s work proves that is not the case and demonstrates that aid in Yemen can be delivered at scale and in a manner that is transparent and accountable. In just two weeks in February, Oxfam working with the Yemeni Post Office delivered cash to 100,000 people across remote 860 villages in Hodeidah, helping them to get the food that they desperately need. Immediately upon receiving the cash, many went directly to the market to purchase enough food to feed their families for 2-3 weeks.”

Some countries including Germany, United Kingdom and the Netherlands have scaled up with tens of millions of dollars in aid to Yemen, but much more is needed from all donors if catastrophe is to be avoided. The figures reveal that the situation is particularly grim in rural areas,  in the governorate of Hodeidah, acute malnutrition rates are the worst in the country at an estimated 28 percent.

Oxfam said the causes of the escalation in hunger were surging food and fuel prices, combined with political turmoil and violence.

More on Oxfam's humanitarian response in Yemen (OxfamGB)

For years, the deteriorating crisis in Yemen has been ignored – and now the country is at breaking point.
Joy Singhal

Contact information

Interviewees available from Yemen.
For more information contact:

Ian Bray
+44 (0)1865 472289
+44 (0)7721 461339