There are currently 15.9 million Yemenis classified as food insecure out of a population of some 28 million
UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warns lockdowns to prevent spread of coronavirus are likely to impact humanitarian supply chains keeping large part of Yemeni population fed as pandemic worsens.
Yemen, already pushed to the brink of famine by a five-year war, could see a “catastrophic” food security situation due to the coronavirus pandemic and lower remittances from the Gulf, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Monday.
The conflict in Yemen has caused what the United Nations describes as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Some 80% of Yemen’s population are reliant on aid and millions face hunger.
“The health system was already under heavy stress and will now be overwhelmed if COVID-19 continues to spread and in addition it will affect the movement of people and the movement of goods,” Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, the FAO’s assistant director-general and regional representative for the Near East and North Africa, told Reuters.
“That situation could be really catastrophic if all the elements of worst case scenarios come to be but let’s hope not and the UN are working on avoiding that.”
Lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus are likely to impact humanitarian supply chains keeping a large part of the population fed, the UN agency said in a report on Monday. There are currently 15.9 million Yemenis classified as food insecure out of a population of some 28 million.
The FAO does not currently have an estimate as to how much bigger that number could get if the disease continues to spread but it continues to monitor the situation.
The WFP had said it would halve aid in Huthi-held areas from mid-April over donor concerns that the group is hindering aid deliveries, a charge it denies.
The FAO said Yemen, the poorest Arabian Peninsula nation, would also be hit by an expected decline in remittances from Yemenis in Gulf countries, which amounted to $3.8 billion in 2019.
“This is a significant source of income for the country that may be considerably reduced,” Ould Ahmed said.
Many foreign workers in the energy-producing region have lost jobs, been put on unpaid leave or had salaries cut due to the coronavirus and low oil prices.
“Without peace we will continue to struggle with food insecurity and there will be no long term recovery,” FAO said.