ROME, Jan 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - In the midst of
one of the world's worst hunger crises, Yemen's farmers urgently
need support so they can grow more food and provide young
people with jobs, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization
Nearly two years of war between a Saudi-led Arab coalition
and the Iran-allied Houthi movement has left more than half of
Yemen's 28 million people facing hunger, its economy in ruins
and food supplies disrupted.
Nearly half of Yemen's 22 governorates are officially rated
as being in an emergency food situation, which is four on a
five-point scale, where five is famine, the United Nations said
"People's access to food is rapidly worsening and urgent
action is needed," said Salah Hajj Hassan, FAO representative in
About two-thirds of the population depends on agriculture
for their survival, and it is one of the only sectors of the
economy still functioning after years of war, according to FAO.
But farming has been devastated by the conflict, and rural
communities need help to restore crops and livestock, the U.N.
This is especially true for those living in remote or
conflict-hit areas which are frequently cut off from food aid,
Pressure on rural communities has increased as people fled
fighting in the cities to stay with friends or relatives in the
countryside, Hajj Hassan said.
Supporting farmers will not only ease hunger levels, it may
also help prevent the conflict from worsening.
"From a security point of view, if we don't give those
people the chance to work, what alternatives will young people
have?" Hajj Hassan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
Yemen's early warning system also needs to be bolstered so
that authorities and aid agencies can monitor changes in hunger
levels, and get early information about drought, locust
infestations, cyclones and floods - which are frequent visitors
to the impoverished country.
"It is absolutely critical for the authorities and the
people themselves to ... be able to monitor these shocks so ...
they can take early action to prevent it from turning into a big
disaster," Dominique Burgeon, director of FAO's emergency and
rehabilitation division, said earlier this month.
"In terms of numbers, Yemen is the worst humanitarian crisis
in the world," he said.
The European Union has given 12 million euros to help
150,000 farmers, and to collect more data on people's access to
food, FAO said this week.
(Reporting by Alex Whiting @Alexwhi, Editing by Ros Russell.;
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