UN warns of worsening hunger crisis in Yemen

Over eight million people are already considered to be on the brink of famine in Yemen. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 October 2018
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UN warns of worsening hunger crisis in Yemen

  • The World Food Programme is in the process of scaling up its activities in Yemen to provide emergency food assistance
  • Eight million people in Yemen are already considered to be in the brink of famine

GENEVA: Some 12 million Yemenis could soon be on the brink of famine if the security and economic situation in the war-ravaged country does not improve, the UN warned Tuesday.
“Yemen is currently facing the world’s worst hunger crisis, with almost 18 million people throughout the country not knowing where their next meal is coming from,” World Food Programme (WFP) spokesman Herve Verhoosel told reporters in Geneva.
Over eight million people are already considered to be on the brink of famine in Yemen, he said, adding that the situation was being exacerbated by sky-rocketing food prices, which have soared by a third in the past year alone.
“If the situation persists, we could see an additional 3.5 million severely food insecure Yemenis, or nearly 12 million in total, who urgently require regular food assistance to prevent them from slipping into famine-like conditions,” he warned.
This means the UN agency will need more funding, Verhoosel told AFP, pointing out that “the more people (who need help), the more money is needed.”
WFP is in the process of scaling up its activities in Yemen to provide emergency food assistance to some eight million of the country’s hungriest people each month, Verhoosel said.
But he lamented that due to the dire security situation in the port city of Hodeida, the UN agency still did not have access to some 51,000 tons of wheat stocks at its Red Sea Mills facility there, which would be enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month.
“We are doing everything we can to ensure access to these wheat stocks,” Verhoosel said.
Yemen’s air, land and sea ports are currently functioning, so WFP had several ships filled with aid headed toward Yemen, and is working to reposition stocks in case routes are cut off, he said.
The agency has also begun using the port of Salalah in Oman as a supplementary route, he said.
WFP currently has enough grains in Yemen to help 6.4 million people for two months.
But Verhoosel warned that distribution across the country was difficult at best, insisting that aid workers need access and guarantees that their neutrality will be respected.
“We need an end to the fighting,” he said.
Yemen’s brutal conflict has since 2015 left some 10,000 people dead and has created what the UN has dubbed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.


Iran must provide care to detainees on hunger strike: UN experts

Updated 54 min 12 sec ago
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Iran must provide care to detainees on hunger strike: UN experts

  • British-Iranian detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe launched a hunger strike over a lack of care
  • “The authorities must urgently address the violations that are the basis of their hunger strike protest,” UN experts said

GENEVA: UN human rights experts urged Iran on Wednesday to grant urgently needed medical attention to two detainees, including British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who launched a hunger strike over a lack of care.
The six UN experts also appealed on behalf of Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi, who was arrested in 2015 and jailed for 10 years for “forming and managing an illegal group” and who has joined Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s hunger strike.
“We urge the Government to immediately and unconditionally provide Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Narges Mohammadi with access to the appropriate treatment and care they have repeatedly requested in light of their serious health concerns,” the experts said in a statement.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, has said his wife has detected a lump in her breast and is complaining of numbness in her arms and legs.
Mohammadi has been denied proper health care for more than a year, despite suffering from a pulmonary embolism, blood clots and seizures, the experts said said, citing people familiar with her situation.
“The authorities must urgently address the violations that are the basis of their hunger strike protest,” the group said.
The statement was signed by Dainius Puras, special rapporteur on the right to health, Diego Garcia-Sayan, the rapporteur for independent judges and lawyers as well as Nils Melzer, the UN expert on torture.
It was also signed by a specialist on arbitrary detentions, Seong-Phil Hong, the rapporteur on human rights defenders, Michel Forst, and Javaid Rehman, the expert on human rights in Iran.
UN rights experts are independent, unpaid and do not speak for the office of the High Commission for Human Rights.