News   /   Yemen

Senior Red Cross official says 19 Yemenis suffer from food insecurity as Saudi-led war against impoverished country continues

Karima, a 7-year-old Yemeni girl, watches as her mother makes bread. (File photo by WFP)

About 19 million Yemenis are currently suffering from food insecurity, according to a senior official with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), amid the ongoing Saudi-led war and siege on the poorest Middle Eastern country.

"Two out of three Yemenis are currently suffering from food insecurity, i.e., about 19 million people," said Director of Operations at the International Committee of the Red Cross Martin Schüepp on Twitter during his visit to Yemen.

"Many more suffer from a lack of access to basic health care, yet despite all this, Yemen is too often out of the spotlight," Schüepp said.

Known as the world's largest humanitarian crisis, Yemen has fallen victim to a war led by Saudi Arabia since March 2015, when Riyadh formed a military coalition consisting of its regional allies and backed by Western powers to dismantle the popular Ansarullah resistance movement and reinstall Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a key Saudi ally.

The war, accompanied by a tight siege depriving the impoverished country of its basic needs, has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead and displaced millions more. It has also destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases in the war-ravaged country.

According to Schüepp, a political solution to the conflict is the only way through which Yemen can fully recover. "The ICRC is dealing with urgent needs and at the same time trying to come up with solutions that would allow the country to catch a breath," he said.

The official explained that during his visit to Yemen, "I personally saw local doctors, together with ICRC staff, treating people with gun wounds in a local emergency department, and I spoke to farmers whose livelihoods were severely damaged during the years of conflict."

The remarks come months after the World Food Programme (WFP) announced a further reduction in the food rations for Yemenis, citing global inflation, funding gaps, and the ramifications of the Russia-Ukraine war.

"We are now being driven to scale back support for 5 million of those people to less than 50 percent of the daily requirement, and for the other 8 million to around 25 percent of the daily requirement," the WPF said in June.

Earlier this month, the UN's deputy relief chief Joyce Msuya made clear that life-saving humanitarian assistance and protection in Yemen must be ramped up to protect the lives of millions of vulnerable people across the country.

According to the UN, malnutrition rates among Yemeni women and children are among the highest in the world, with 1.3 million pregnant or breastfeeding women and 2.2 million children under five needing treatment for acute malnutrition.

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