DEC responds to worrying WFP report on increasing hunger levels in southern Yemen

22/07/2020

This morning’s announcement by WFP warns that Covid-19 is contributing to a ‘perfect storm’ of problems that could throw millions of Yemenis into a deeper food crisis. Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Chief Executive Saleh Saeed says the situation is so acute in Yemen that much more needs to be done now, before hunger levels rise again in the coming months, as forecast in the report.

The DEC Coronavirus Appeal launched last week to help people displaced by conflict and instability in some of the most fragile places in the world – including Yemen – who are now facing the Covid-19 pandemic.

DEC members are already responding in the country and say that many families have lost almost all means of accessing food. In a country that imported 90% of its food even before the war, the ongoing financial crisis and restrictions on imports by warring parties have resulted in massive increases in the price of food.

Muhsin Siddiquey, Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director said: “This new data shows how bleak the situation is for the millions of Yemenis struggling with hunger as conflict has decimated infrastructure, restricted food imports, and led to mass unemployment.

“For millions the Covid-19 pandemic is the final blow, causing a slump in vital remittances and squeezing food imports even tighter.

“I worry that Yemenis are having to choose between dying at home from hunger or risking getting the virus by going out to find food. We really need donations to keep supporting and saving the lives of the most vulnerable people.”

Alex Nawa, Yemen Country Director, Action Against Hunger said: “In Yemen the cost of food has doubled in the last two weeks. In some rural areas it has gone up three times. We think severe malnutrition will increase by 10% in the next few months.

“Food prices have increased because of inflation and because fuel prices have shot up so the cost of transporting food to shops and markets has risen. Fuel shortages have hampered delivery of clean water and caused problems with water pumping.

“There is a lack of knowledge about the virus. When people die they are buried within 12-24 hours. I have seen the number of burials at cemeteries increase over the last few weeks. There is no testing to see if people have died of Covid. Families are responsible for burial and don’t wear any PPE, often burying their loved ones with their bare hands. I am very worried that they could then get infected with the virus. It’s a grim outlook here – Covid is having a massive impact.”

Saleh Saeed, DEC Chief Executive, said: “I could never have imagined this happening to my ancestral home country.... My friends and family in Yemen share with me how desperate the situation has become and how it has got worse for many.

“First came the war and destruction, then came the hunger and cholera and now the deadly threat of coronavirus making the situation unbearable and the hunger even worse. Some have simply accepted their fate and die quietly at home.”

He thanked the public for donations to the DEC appeal for the seven places it is prioritising.  “The UK public have once again demonstrated their generosity and compassion. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has supported the DEC Coronavirus appeal so far, helping us to raise over £14 million.”

The DEC Coronavirus Appeal will help the most vulnerable people in six of the world’s most fragile states: Yemen and Syria; Somalia, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo; and Afghanistan. A total of 24 million displaced people live in crowded temporary shelter in these countries.

The appeal also includes the world’s largest refugee camp – in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where more than 850,000 Rohingya refugees have sought sanctuary.

Despite the many challenges presented by the pandemic, the 14 DEC member charities are already present and working in refugee and displacement camps. They urgently need more funds to scale up their operations and save lives.

Stay up to date with developments by following the DEC on Twitter or Facebook.


Notes to editors

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The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis released today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and partners says economic shocks, conflict, floods, desert locusts and now COVID-19 are creating a perfect storm that could reverse hard-earned food security gains in Yemen. 

About the DEC: When large-scale disasters hit countries without the capacity to respond, the DEC brings together 14 leading UK aid charities to raise funds quickly and efficiently. In these times of crisis, people in life-and-death situations need our help and our mission is to save, protect and rebuild lives through effective humanitarian response. The DEC’s 14 member charities are: Action Against Hunger, ActionAid UK, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide UK, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Oxfam GB, Plan International UK, Save the Children UK, Tearfund and World Vision UK.

Through UK Aid Match the Department for International Development gives the British public the opportunity to decide how the UK aid budget is spent and support people in desperate need by matching their donations pound-for-pound up to £5 million. UK Government match funding will go directly to the DEC, doubling the value of the public’s own donations to the DEC appeal up to £5 million and will ensure that DEC member charities working on the ground can reach even more people in need.

UK Aid Match has increased the impact of a number of DEC appeals to help those in need around the world, including most recently to support people affected by Cyclone Idai which hit Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe in March 2019.

UK Aid Match enquiries should be directed to the Department for International Development. Please call 020 7023 0600 (24-hour).

How to donate:  

  • Online: dec.org.uk
  • Phone: 0370 60 60 900
  • SMS: Text SUPPORT to 70150 to donate £10.  Texts cost £10 and the whole £10 goes to the DEC CORONAVIRUS APPEAL. You must be 16 or over and please ask the bill payer's permission. For full terms and conditions and more information go to www.dec.org.uk.
  • Post: Send a cheque to DEC Coronavirus Appeal, PO Box 999, London EC3A 3AA.

Donations will help provide the following:

  • £30 could provide six displaced families with enough soap for a month
  • £50 could provide essential hygiene kits to two displaced families
  • £100 could provide PPE for one frontline health worker for four months.