RIMBO, SWEDEN — Boosting aid and even ending the devastating Yemen conflict would not be enough to end hunger in the impoverished country, a World Food Programme(WFP) official said onThursday.
“WFP hopes that the warring parties will successfully negotiate an end to this conflict, which is the only way to solve what has become the largest hunger crisis in the world,” WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said as rival Yemeni delegations gathered for UN-brokered talks in Sweden.
“Even if we have peace tomorrow, then you will still need to work on a way to have that economy recover,” Verhoosel told AFP.
“Humanitarian support is not enough. You need the humanitarian support but you also need to save the local economy.”
Yemen is home to what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, a crisis triggered by a frail economy, massive poverty, war, blockade and disease.
The Sweden talks mark the first time in two years warring parties have sat down together in a nearly four-year war which has pushed the impoverished country to the brink of mass starvation.
The Yemen crisis spiralled after Saudi Arabia and its regional military allies launched an offensive to support Yemen’s embattled government against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in March 2015.
The situation has worsened in recent months due to a broad economic collapse and rising violence in the rebel-held port of Hodeida, a crucial import hub for food and other basic supplies.
The UN says 24 million people in Yemen — roughly 75 per cent of the population — will need humanitarian assistance in 2019.
Both the UN humanitarian agency and WFP have called for a boost in funds next year to help meet the needs of Yemenis — 14 million of whom stand at the brink of famine, according to UN estimates.
At least 10,000 people have been killed since the Saudi-led alliance joined the Yemen war in 2015.