Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Aid agencies call 'Friends of Yemen' to rescue Yemenis from hunger 

Hunger  crisis  threatens  to derail Yemen’s development and stability, aid agencies warn.
Humanitarian response still severely under-funded despite billions promised.
The  hunger  crisis  in  Yemen,  which  affects almost one out of every two Yemeni  citizens,  and  is  putting  nearly one million children at risk of severe  malnutrition,  must  be  addressed  immediately  to put the fragile country  on the path to a better future, eight international and Yemeni aid agencies  said  today.
 The call for more targeted emergency funding came as foreign ministers from the US, UK, Saudi Arabia and other countries are set to meet with the Yemeni government at the Friends of Yemen donor conference in New York.
The  aid agencies – Oxfam, Mercy Corps, Islamic Relief, CARE International, Merlin,  International  Medical  Corps,  Yemen Relief and Development Forum (YRDF)  and  the Humanitarian Forum – said that despite generous pledges of $6.4bn  made at a conference in Riyadh, the humanitarian response was still dangerously under-funded with the majority of pledged funds being allocated
to  infrastructure  and macro-economic stability.
 This year’s UN appeal for $585  million  for  Yemen’s emergency needs is still less than half-funded.
This  shortfall  could be closed with a fraction – just over 4 percent - of the  funds  promised  in  Riyadh.  
There  is no reason for an under-funded humanitarian response, say the agencies.
Recent  surveys have uncovered high malnutrition rates in Lahj in the south and Hajjah in the north, and agencies are now responding to needs in Abyan, which  until  recently  was  a  no-go  area wracked by fighting between the Yemeni  government  and  insurgents.
 The  aid  agencies said that although longer-term  funding  was  essential,  it  would  not  help  Yemen  achieve development  and  stability unless matched with immediate funding to tackle the worsening humanitarian crisis.
Colette Fearon, Country Director of Oxfam in Yemen, said: “With  each passing day, the crisis gets tougher. Children’s futures are at risk  with  some  of  the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world.
Women  tell  Oxfam  that  their  lives  have  got  worse  since last year's political  upheaval.  
They  can’t  afford  food  or  find work. Parents are pulling  children  out of school to beg, marrying their daughters early and selling  what  little they have just to get food today.
They know this will make  life  harder  in  the  future, but have little choice.  People cannot survive  on  promises,  however  generous.
 It would take a fraction of the money already promised to fully fund the UN appeal.”
The  aid agencies urged donors not to repeat the mistakes of the past where funds were pledged to Yemen, but did not materialize.
 In 2006, five billion dollars  was  promised to Yemen, but in early 2010 less than 10 percent had been   disbursed.
  They  called  on  the  Friends  of  Yemen  to  ensure  a comprehensive  strategy  and accountable and transparent plan detailing how the  money  would be spent and by when, with clear indicators that national and  international  civil  society could monitor.
 They said this would help ensure  that  humanitarian  funding  was  quickly followed by investment to tackle the root causes of Yemen’s hunger crisis.
Mohammed Qazilbash, Mercy Corps Yemen Country Director said “The humanitarian crisis is staggering and Yemen needs immediate assistance to help the millions of Yemenis who are hungry right now.
 As world leaders gather  to  discuss  Yemen’s future, we urge them not only to meet pressing needs on the ground, but to ensure that there is a plan in place to address
the  root causes of the crisis.
Unemployment and high food prices mean that people  cannot  afford  food  today. By  investing  in the private sector, supporting  market development, job training and youth employment programs, donors can give Yemenis a better future and break the cycle of hunger.”
The UN is expected to request another £92 million to address needs in Abyan
in  the  coming  months.  
The agencies said this could be covered with just over one percent of the 6.4bn pledged.
“Malnutrition  rates  in Hodeidah have exceeded the emergency threshold by 100  percent,  so  Islamic  Relief  is  launching  a  health, nutrition and livelihood  programme  there, it’s aim is to save life” said Islamic Relief Country  Director Hashem Awnallah, adding that the agency is also targeting
Abyan  and  Lahj, but “more resources are needed to keep current operations in place and reach out further.”
The  call  of  the  international  aid  agencies is echoed by Yemeni civil society.
  In  a  recent  civil society conference in Riyadh, over 100 civil society  representatives  from  across  Yemen  agreed that the humanitarian crisis  should  be  a key priority for funding.
The Yemeni diaspora is also campaigning  for recognition of the hunger crisis through its Hungry4Change campaign.

No comments:

Post a Comment