Skip to main content

You are here


Yemen: "We are losing the fight against famine" - UN Humanitarian Chief

21 Sep 2018


In his briefing to the Security Council today, UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock spoke about the humanitarian situation in Yemen. "In a word, it is bleak. We are losing the fight against famine", he said. "The position has deteriorated in an alarming way in recent weeks. We may now be approaching a tipping point, beyond which it will be impossible to prevent massive loss of life as a result of widespread famine across the country."

Years of very intense and protracted fighting have destroyed infrastructure, wrecked public services, displaced millions of people from their homes and livelihoods, turning this into the worst humanitarian crisis.

Three quarters of Yemenis – 75%, more than 22 million people – are left in need of some kind of humanitarian assistance or protection. Some 18 million people, including a high proportion of Yemen’s children, are food insecure, and more than 8 million of them severely-food insecure, depending on emergency food assistance to survive.

"We are already seeing pockets of famine-like-conditions – including cases where people are eating leaves because they have no other form of sustenance", ERC Lowcock said. "We estimate that an additional 3.5 million people may soon be added to the 8 million already severely food insecure."

Despite massive humanitarian response operations - made possible by thousands of aid workers who put their lives at risk daily to assist people in need, and by the generous funding provided by donors - the economic deterioration, the depreciation of the rial, ongoing access issues and the intensification of fighting over the past weeks risk to overwhelm aid operations. "While we will continue to push to scale up the humanitarian response, humanitarian organizations simply cannot look after the needs of all 29 million Yemenis. That is untenable", said Mr Lowcock.

Read the full briefing.

Photos: OCHA/G.Clarke