Khalid Al-Ashmori/CARE

Hunger catastrophe looms for 161,000 Yemenis as global food supply deteriorates

New report shows a disturbing trend of more people at threat of famine in Yemen

14 MARCH 2022 – The newly released Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report confirms the serious concerns anticipated by humanitarian organizations such as CARE in Yemen for 2022.  

The new report shows a disturbing trend of millions of people at threat of famine in Yemen. According to the IPC report, 17.4 million Yemenis will experience high levels of food insecurity from January to May 2022. This is an increase of more than 7 per cent compared to last year and is expected to rise to 19 million over the second half of this year.  

The level of food insecurity and the risk of famine conditions for a high number of Yemenis are now vivid, inevitable, and undeniable: 

  • By May 2022, the country will see an increase of 89 per cent among those who are at risk of a hunger catastrophe in comparison to previous IPC analysis covering October to December 2020 where 31,000 people were living in extreme deprivation of food up from 16,400. 
  • This figure is expected to rise to 161,000 during the second half of this year. Furthermore, during the first five months of 2022, 5.6 million people are estimated to be living in an emergency according to the IPC Acute Food Insecurity Classification, meaning that people will be experiencing large food consumption gaps that will result in high acute malnutrition. Since the conflict began nearly seven years ago, 2.2 million children under five and 1.3 million pregnant and lactating women need life-saving treatment for acute malnutrition.

Crucially, the analysis carried out for 2022 preceded the current humanitarian situation in Ukraine. While this latest crisis has led to the displacement of millions of Ukrainians to its neighbouring countries, it is also bringing the world’s major grain and oil supply to countries such as Yemen to a harrowing halt.  

With Yemen importing at least 40 per cent of its wheat needs from Ukraine and Russia, the current IPC findings merely represent a part of the reality Yemenis will be experiencing in the coming months. Once the disrupted supply chain begins to manifest widespread consequences on the ground, it is feared that the number of Yemenis exposed to famine conditions will rise further and beyond current IPC figures. 

Aaron Brent, CARE Country Director in Yemen, says, “On 26 March 2022, Yemenis will have lived through at least 2,555 days of conflict, in what has become one of the world’s largest protracted humanitarian crises. Today’s IPC figures are tragic indications that already warrant immediate action to mitigate and reduce the risk of famine in Yemen. Added to that is the negative impact of the grain and oil shortages that are going to affect every region in the world, Yemenis are simply not equipped to bear the burden of what is coming their way. Negative coping mechanisms we always talk so much about are going to form an integral part of their lives, leading to at times irreversible consequences, particularly for women and girls who are more vulnerable.” 

 The upcoming donor pledging conference for Yemen on Wednesday, 16 March, comes at a time where global focus and attention is drawn to the current humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine. Long before this, however, Yemen has been grappling with funding gaps, with the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan being only partially funded (at 60.9 per cent).  

The international community must come together to commit to and support the Yemeni people once again. National and international organizations must be able to provide urgently needed and critical life-saving assistance to populations facing such large food consumption gaps.  

Close collaboration between humanitarian and development programs is also critical to address the root causes of food insecurity by strengthening the resilience and means of livelihood for Yemenis. With the conflict still ongoing, such resilience is severely diminished and has generated high levels of vulnerabilities to shocks such as the food and fuel crisis suppressing the economy. Yemeni lives and livelihoods need to be protected by the international community as well as all parties involved in the conflict. 

“We must not wait for numbers of famine-related fatalities to spark swift, urgent action — swiftness and urgency are needed right now to make sure we are not counting those numbers,” adds Brent. “Yemeni women, men, and children are not statistics to read in a report. Each life matters and each death is preventable. What is needed is the right level of humanitarian assistance, at the right speed of delivery alongside efforts that will bring peace for Yemen.” 

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About CARE Canada:

Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization working around the globe to save lives, defeat poverty, and achieve social justice. CARE puts women and girls at the centre of our work because we know we cannot overcome poverty until all people have equal rights and opportunities. CARE develops solutions alongside women and girls to lift themselves, their families, and communities out of poverty and out of crisis. CARE works in over 100 countries around the world.

To learn more about CARE Canada, visit www.care.ca.