Yemen city on the brink of famine, U.N. agency warns

Luke 21:11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

Residents of one Yemen city are on the brink of famine, a United Nations agency warned Monday, as violent conflicts have prevented humanitarian workers from supplying food.

The World Food Programme (WFP) said it delivered food to Al Qahira, a besieged area of the Taiz governorate, on Saturday, bringing enough food to last 18,000 people for one month. But it said Taiz remains at an “emergency” level on the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification scale, one step below famine, and workers must be allowed to continue to deliver aid there.

The WFP said it has been delivering food to some parts of Taiz since December, though fighting between Houthi militants and government forces has complicated the agency’s efforts to move the supplies to the people in need. In a news release, it said about 20 percent of households in Taiz don’t have enough food, and many are facing “life-threatening rates of acute malnutrition.”

Taiz is far from the only Yemen city affected by fighting.

The UN says about 21.2 million of the country’s 26 million residents need some humanitarian aid, a 33 percent increase since violence erupted last March. The WFP says approximately 7.6 million Yemen residents are now “severely food insecure,” which requires urgent assistance.

Other countries are also in need of aid.

On Tuesday, the WFP said it was planning to deliver food this month to 35,000 people who have been affected by Boko Haram’s violent insurgency in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. In a statement, the agency said it recently supplied food to 5,000 people in Chad for the first time.

“We were told that people have been really struggling to survive. Some said that they have been surviving only on maize for weeks,” Mary-Ellen McGroarty, the WFP’s Country Director for Chad, said in a statement announcing the increased humanitarian efforts. “We have started distributions at five sites where the needs are most critical and we are working to reach others.”

The WFP said some 5.6 million people are facing hunger as a result of Boko Haram’s violence, which has prompted 2.8 million people to flee their homes — 400,000 since December alone.

Last week, the WFP issued warnings about the food situations in South Sudan and Haiti, saying that about 6 million people in those countries were facing food insecurity. That included 40,000 residents of war-torn South Sudan that UN agencies said were “on the brink of catastrophe.”

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