Via The Guardian: Scale of Yemen famine was 'initially underestimated' by aid agencies. Excerpt:
The sheer magnitude of the famine facing Yemen was initially underestimated by the aid sector, leaving food security experts rushing to update projections made at the UN general assembly a fortnight ago, sources have told the Guardian.
The speed at which the Yemeni currency plunged in early September, forcing food prices to soar, is being blamed for miscalculations that mean between 1.5 million and 2 million more people than initially thought are now at risk of famine.
Humanitarians warn children will be worst hit in what is being forecast as the world’s most lethal famine for 100 years with up to 14 million people at risk, according to the UN.
“The crisis in Yemen is so huge and of such magnitude, we have to be frank about whether we can together deal with what is facing us,” said Lise Grande, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen. “We are literally looking at hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of people who may not survive.”
Britain announced on Tuesday it would provide further aid to tackle malnutrition among Yemen’s children, with funding secured to help screen 2.2 million under-fives.
But the news was met with cynicism from one humanitarian organisation, which criticised the UK for providing aid with one hand and arms to the Saudi-led coalition with the other.
Yemen was plunged into civil war in 2015 after Houthi rebels – Shia Muslims backed by Iran – seized control of much of the country, including the capital, Sana’a. A Saudi-led coalition launched an air campaign aimed at restoring President Hadi’s government, with support from the US, UK and France.
The famine is being driven by economic factors caused by conflict, rather than a lack of food, experts say. The depreciation of the Yemeni currency has caused food prices to increase, while the soaring cost of fuel has made transport more expensive.
In addition, importers of basics such as cooking oil, rice, sugar and butter have been prevented from entering the country due to restrictions imposed by Yemen’s central bank based in Aden, territory controlled by its exiled government.
"Tens of thousands of destitute families, who were barely able to buy what they needed just a few weeks ago, can no longer afford to feed themselves at all,” Grande told the Guardian.
About 8.5 million people in the Middle East’s poorest country already rely on the World Food Programme to survive, including 1 million who receive cash assistance.
But if the current trend continues, as many as 5.6 million more Yemenis may need assistance to survive.