An internally displaced young Yemeni girl stands outside her hut (picture FAO)

As many as 20 million Yemenis are food insecure in the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Already, 15.9 million people wake up hungry, according to the latest Integrated food security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis which is released today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and humanitarian partners.

"What the IPC tells us is alarming," said Lise Grande, Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen. "65,000 people are barely surviving right now and at least a quarter of a million people are facing a bleak year. Any change in their circumstances, including any disruption in their ability to access food on a regular basis will bring them to the brink of death."

Conflict remains the major driver of food insecurity. Loss of livelihoods and income and increases in the price of basic commodities are also contributing factors, reducing the ability of families to purchase food. Unpredictable fluctuations in the exchange rate and credit restrictions have impacted imports. The collapse of public services and social safety nets and the erosion of coping mechanisms have made millions of Yemenis more vulnerable to shocks.

"Agriculture and livelihood support are a critical part of the humanitarian response in Yemen. Prior to the escalation of violence, 73% of the population relied on agriculture and fisheries for their livelihoods. FAO is not only working to enable families to produce food for themselves and their communities when markets are disrupted but also to safeguard, protect and restore Yemen's agriculture sector. For example, more than 1 million animals have been vaccinated and treated for pests and diseases. However, more funds are needed to support millions of Yemeni family farmers," the FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said.

"In a war waged by adults, it is the country's children who suffer first and suffer most," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. "Thousands of Yemeni children could die from severe malnutrition if conditions, including conflict and economic crisis, do not improve soon. Warring parties must choose whether to end the fighting, and save lives, or fight on, and cause more children to die."

"With the support of the international community, WFP is feeding nearly eight million people a month. If not for that, two-thirds of the population in Yemen would be facing horrific levels of hunger and starvation," said WFP Executive Director David Beasley.

"This report is an alarm bell that shows hunger is rising and we need a massive increase in aid and sustained access to all areas in Yemen in order to rescue millions of Yemenis. If we don't, we will lose an entire generation of children to hunger."

Read more : FAO

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