The U.N.’s food agency warned Wednesday that the situation in Yemen was “catastrophic”, as aid agencies rushed to take advantage of a temporary ceasefire to help desperate civilians.
Nearly seven weeks of Saudi-led air strikes against Iran-backed rebels has caused severe shortages in water, fuel and medical aid as well as heavily disrupting trade, crippling a country dependent on imported food.
“The situation in Yemen is very serious and at the moment the country lacks everything,” Dominique Burgeon, Emergencies Director at the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), told Agence France-Presse.
“Yemen imports 90 percent of its food needs, as much as 95 percent for some products such as wheat,” he said, but “imports are virtually at a standstill.”
A lack of fuel means those products which are available cannot be distributed. The agricultural sector has been hit hard, with irrigation systems destroyed and seeds in short supply and livestock are succumbing to diseases.
Despite threats to the ceasefire from rockets shot into border areas of Saudi Arabia from Yemen’s rebel-held north, agencies such as the World Food Program (WFP) and Doctors without Borders (MSF) were rushing into action.
When famine is declared it is already too late for many people. It is absolutely important to act now because the situation is catastrophic.