The UN’s World Food Program (WFP) announced Wednesday that it has been “forced” to cut aid to Yemen due to a lack of funding, a move that has grave implications for the millions of Yemenis reliant on food aid to survive.
Starting in January, the WFP said 8 million Yemenis it provides aid for will receive reduced food rations while the 5 million Yemenis “at immediate risk of slipping into famine conditions” will continue to receive full rations.
UN agencies requested $3.85 billion for their humanitarian efforts in Yemen this year but were only able to raise $2.23 billion from donors. If the trouble raising funds continues, the WFP will have to cut even more aid.
Yemenis are facing such severe food shortages due to the US-backed Saudi-led war and blockade that has been ongoing since 2015. In November, the UN estimated that the war will have taken 377,000 lives by the end of 2021. More than half of the deaths are attributed to starvation and widespread disease caused by the war.
The UN death toll is likely a low estimate. Earlier this year, four UN agencies released a report that said if conditions don’t change in Yemen, 400,000 children under the age of five could die of starvation in 2021 alone, and the war has only escalated since the warning was made.
Despite President Biden’s earlier vows to end support for Riyadh’s “offensive” operations in Yemen, the US is still supporting the war, and the Pentagon is still servicing Saudi warplanes that are bombing Yemen. This week, Saudi airstrikes hit the Sanaa airport, forcing the UN to halt aid deliveries into the city.