Yemen: "a forgotten crisis", say U.N.

 
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Some 14.4 million Yemenis, more than half of the population of Yemen, are food insecure, an increase of 12 per cent in just the last eight months, as ongoing conflict and import restrictions reduce availability and send prices soaring, the United Nations agricultural agency warned today.

"The numbers are staggering," the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Emergency Response Team Leader in Yemen, Etienne Peterschmitt, said, calling the situation "a forgotten crisis, with millions of people in urgent need across the war-torn country."

"Under these critical conditions, it's more important than ever to help families produce their own food and reduce their dependence on increasingly scarce and costly food imports." It's more important than ever to help families produce their own food and reduce their dependence on increasingly scarce and costly food imports.

Fuel shortages and restrictions on imports, which Yemen relies on for more than 90 per cent of its staple foods, have reduced the availability of essential food commodities and caused food and fuel prices to soar since conflict escalated in March 2015.

Imports are essential as only 4 per cent of the country's land is arable and only a fraction of that is currently used for food production.

Earlier this month the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that civilians were suffering a "terrible toll" in the fighting, with casualties topping 8,100, nearly 2,800 of them killed, amid Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, shelling by Houthi groups and other clashes.

The UN has been trying to broker an end to the fighting but these efforts have been stymied by violations of the ceasefire needed to start the process. In December UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed adjourned peace talks until mid-January to allow for bi-lateral in-country and regional consultations to achieve a ceasefire, but this deadline has also since passed.

FAO noted that 2.3 million people are internally displaced, an increase of more than 400 per cent over January 2015, putting added pressure on host communities already struggling with...

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