In Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, millions of people are facing a severe humanitarian crisis, widespread hunger and chronic malnutrition.
In March the charity Oxfam International gave a dire warning in a press release:
Yemen is at the crossroads of humanitarian catastrophe international aid agency Oxfam said today in reaction to new figures from the World Food Programme, which showed a radical increase in the number of people facing severe hunger in the country. The new figures indicate that 45 percent of the population in Yemen do not have enough to eat – more than 10 million people, with half of these people severely food insecure and in need of urgent emergency aid.
Yemeni Mohammed Adel Alamer tweeted in dismay:
@M7mmdAdel: 10 million Yemenis facing #famine in Yemen! The world only cares about #Qaeda and #DroneStrikes them and to hell with the 10 million
Oxfam offered more figures:
Yemen has had massive food security problems for years, and Al Jazeera English recently produced two videos highlighting how the ongoing political turmoil has aggravated the situation and is putting the lives of many children at risk.
British-Yemeni blogger Omar tweeted Al Jazeera's photo of a severely malnourished child:
@OmarMash: ‘The tiny bodies are still breathing’ – Babies starve in Yemen's hospitals, he's a lucky one, he made to the hospital.
Yemeni blogger Afrah Nasser wrote a post entitled “Hunger in Yemen”:
Food crisis is increasingly becoming epidemic in Yemen. Reports of starvation and malnutrition among children in Yemen have been gripping headlines for a while. Last night [April 27], UNICEF spokesman Mr. Mohammed al-Asaadi spoke to al-Jazeera about this issue and said, “Around 1 million children are food insecure and malnourished. At least 120 thousand under-5 children may die between now and the end of 2012 if no action is taken.” [...] I wonder what the government is doing exactly to tackle this issue. It's really sad that politicians in Yemen could ignore the children's plight.
@OmarMash: The #YemenFoodCrisis is only going to increase in severity if not immediately dealt with by international donors, the Yemen government and the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council].
@OmarMash: I have a horrible feeling that in 6 months time the #YemenFoodCrisis will at its peak, only then will the world's attention be focused.
London-based Yemeni Loubna Maktary urged immediate action to be taken to save Yemen's dying children:
@LoubbyM: Children in Yemen are dying of HUNGER!!! Stop ignoring them. Yemen is not a political problem, it is a human catastrophe #YemenFoodCrisis (:
It is hoped that the food crisis will be discussed at the Friends of Yemen Conference in Riyadh on May 23. UNICEF has called for children to be kept at the centre of the conference's security and political dialogues.
To learn more about Yemen's food crisis read this Storify.