Foreign Policy Blogs

Famine grows behind closed doors in Yemen

Famine grows behind closed doors in Yemen
In a recent article written for The Economist, the hardships facing many Yemenis, mostly due to malnutrition, are being brought to light on a country that is often hesitant to ask for help.

Even before 2011 when recent tribulations involving the military and local factions broke out, the conditions facing the population were already dramatic. On top of the fighting that took place, droughts continued to plague local farms, prices for foods kept rising, and rampant unemployment exacerbated the inability of most Yemenis to afford food.

To make matters worse, in late 2011 the government decided to curtail subsidies for fuels, making an already troubled country that much more deprived. This has led to many people, like Anisa, a young widow whose story is told within the article, to buy food on credit, then accumulate major debts, which of course are expected to be paid off; all while any likelihood for finding any job opportunities are close to nonexistent.

International agencies like UNICEF point out that 30% of children in Hodeida, a poor rural town in Yemen, are “‘acutely’ malnourished”. Yemen will soon be the subject of a donor appeal by aid agencies hoping to stem the crisis.  The article describes how “Yemenis like to keep things behind closed doors; failure to care for children is seen as shameful and meetings with people like Anisa remain a rarity.”  The quiet building of the crisis makes the success of such an appeal look less-than-hopeful.

Posted by: Andres Santamaria

Image credit: Peter Salisbury/The Economist