Ukraine conflict set to make more Yemenis hungry, WFP warns
The UN’s World Food Programme warned Thursday that the Russia-Ukraine conflict will likely increase fuel and food prices in war-torn Yemen, pushing more people into hunger as aid funding dwindles.
The announcement came as Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, sending oil prices past $100 per barrel.
European wheat prices also hit a record high on expectations of lower supplies as Ukraine and Russia are two of the world’s biggest producers.
At the start of this year, WFP was forced to reduce food rations for eight million people in Yemen, where a seven-year-long civil war between the government and Huthi rebels has pushed the country to the brink of famine.
“The escalation of conflict in Ukraine is likely to further increase fuel and food prices and especially grains in the import-dependent country,” said a WFP statement on Thursday.
“Food prices have more than doubled across much of Yemen over the past year, leaving more than half of the country in need of food assistance.
“Higher food prices will push more people into the vicious circle of hunger and dependence on humanitarian assistance.”
The WFP has repeatedly warned funds were drying up despite Yemen going through what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
It needs about $800 million in the next six months to provide full assistance to the 13 million people it has been helping.
The shortfall is giving the UN organisation no choice but to ring-fence money for five million people in Yemen “on the brink of famine”, leaving the other eight million who are suffering inadequate food supplies with only half rations.
The top donors to the WFP for its Yemen operations are the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Germany, the European Union, Sweden, Canada and Switzerland.
The UN last year appealed for $3.85 billion to pay for urgently needed aid, but just $1.7 billion was forthcoming.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed directly or indirectly in the Yemen conflict, while millions have been displaced.
“We have no choice but to take food from the hungry to feed the starving and, unless we receive immediate funding, in a few weeks we risk not even being able to feed the starving,” the WFP statement cited WFP Executive Director David Beasley as saying.
“This will be hell on earth,” he warned.