Why Yemen is Reaching Crisis Levels of Food Insecurity

The ongoing famine crisis in Yemen has devastating effects on families, including diseases and death driven by malnutrition. Yemenis have lived with this matter for various years, though recently food insecurity has been rapidly intensifying. A conflict driven by political differences ultimately further drove this country into severe famine. According to UNICEF, of the country’s population of 29 million people, 20.7 million are in need of humanitarian aid. Such drastic measures of food scarcity must be resolved in order to help starving families.

The famine crisis in Yemen has attracted high-level individuals to act as leaders and speak upon the importance of solving the matter. The Executive Director of the World Food Programme, David Beasley, expressed his deep concern and the rate at which famine is getting worse. He elaborated that over 16 million Yemenis now experience crisis levels of starvation and that they will soon face the biggest famine in modern history. Food insecurity in Yemen is a major growing concern and many families, specifically, children are at risk of severe starvation. According to UNICEF, in 2021 it is estimated that 2.3 million children under the age of five will experience acute malnutrition, and many of these children will die if they lack medical treatment.

 Yemenis families are deprived of proper nutrition at the cost of political conflict. In 2011 after the Arab spring movement, where anti-government actions took place, the presidency was moved from the hands of Ali Abdullah Saleh to Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Saleh, the prior president, failed to create peace and protect the Yemenis people and was therefore forced to pass the governance to Mr. Hadi. Though the change in the presidency was meant to create peace throughout Yemen, President Hadi had difficulty resolving the problems which in turn, increased conflict. Under his presidency the Houthi rebel group began to take command of the Saada province, neighbouring areas, and slowly the capital Sanaa, fighting for the end of corruption, and proper government accountability. In 2014 these attacks lead to the beginning of a civil war in Yemen, causing destruction of overall infrastructure and Yemenis health. The attacks lead to economical effects such as the decrease in oil production and increase in the price of food and fuel, ultimately driving more people into food insecurity.

Though political conflict drives the severity of hunger in the area, there are efforts being made to create peace and solve the famine crisis. Saudi Arabia has played a major role in aiming for peace between the government and the Houthi rebel group. After many attempts for a peaceful solution since the beginning of the war, the recent action taken by Saudi Arabia is a plea for a cease-fire, humanitarian cooperation, and economic concessions. Not only is Saudi Arabia eager for peace, Joe Biden, the President of the United States, and his representative Tim Lenderking have also expressed their concern. Lenderking has elaborated the dire need for peace in Yemen, by pleading with the Houthin group to agree to the Saudi cease-fire proposal. Organizations and contributors are also working to help solve the famine crisis in Yemen. Since 2012, Yemen has been partnering with the International Rescue Committee, providing humanitarian aid, specifically clean water, health care services, and feeding programs.

The recent initiative by Saudi Arabia has many individuals eager for a positive change in regard to food deprivation, and a peaceful solution to the civil war in Yemen. If the Houthi movement agrees to the Saudi initiative, the plea will make a substantial positive change to the economy and overall health of the Yemenis people. While the initiative is a step forward to improving the rate of starvation among Yemenis, a permanent political solution must be found in order to ensure peace and the availability of proper nutrition for all individuals and families.