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Updated On: Sunday, 22 September 2019

First Aid Ship in Four Months Docks in Yemen

Content by: South-South News

22 July 2015, New York, USA | Brendan Pastor — A World Food Programme chartered ship carrying food and supplies for over 180,000 people in conflict-affected regions of Yemen has made port in Aden after four months of aid shipments had been prevented due to fighting.

Since a civil war broke out in March, aid deliveries to distressed communities had been unevenly distributed and often subject to denial by armed groups. The most effective means of transporting essential supplies to the area — by way of boat — had been deemed unsafe by officials due to the hostilities.

"We reached Aden before by road, but reaching it by sea is definitely a breakthrough not only for the World Food Programme but for all the humanitarian actors," WFP's Regional Director for the Middle East, Muhannad Hadi, said.

"The vessel was carrying 3000 tons of food enough for 180,000 people for one month. We aim to get more vessels into Aden and into the rest of the Yemeni ports so we can reach Yemeni women children and men in need wherever they are all over the country."

Since April, WFP has reached more than 2 million conflict-affected and severely food insecure people in thirteen of Yemen's governorates, including Abyan, Aden, Dhale, Al Mahwit, Amran, Dhamar, Hajjah, Hodeidah, Lahj, Sana'a, Saada, Shabwa and Taiz.

A recent food security assessment estimated the number of food-insecure people in Yemen at close to 13 million. This includes more than 6 million severely food insecure people who cannot survive without external assistance.

Although more WFP-chartered ships are on stand-by near Aden carrying fuel and more food, the humanitarian situation has become so severe that even fully-mobilized operations will likely not meet the immediate needs of the populations.

"The population of Yemen is about 25 million. Of those, 21 million require some form of humanitarian assistance. And the needs are water, health, food, nutrition, pretty much everything that you could imagine," Julien Harneis, the acting humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said, pointing out that this "really [is] a humanitarian catastrophe at the moment because of the conflict."

Officials have noted that the problem is not so much sending aid to warehouses or storage facilities in Yemen, which are not entirely engulfed by conflict. The challenge is distributing those resources to isolated populations who have been cut off by violence.

Harneis stressed, "The assistance is ready, the issue is can the population get there? So the food distribution or the shelter distribution, we're ready to go, we just need a pause in the fighting."

Such a pause had been attempted earlier this month but failed when combatants continued fighting. This includes the frequent airstrikes by Saudi Arabia against Houthi-led rebels — strikes that some in the United Nations system have suggested are exacerbating the conflict.

The number of those in need and the inability of aid groups to distribute resources underscores the severity of the conflict, and is a reminder of the need for a permanent political resolution to the fighting. But without any progress in diplomatic negotiations, it appears likely that the difficulties in Yemen will continue for the weeks ahead.

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