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Director-General  José Graziano da Silva

UN Security Council Briefing on Yemen

12 July 2017, Geneva

UN Security Council Briefing on Yemen

Thank you for this opportunity to brief you on FAO’s work in Yemen.

I will address two specific issues: the situation of hunger and the situation of our work in the field in agriculture and livestock.  

First of all, the hunger:  

As already mentioned, the big number is 17 million people severely food insecure. This is the assessment made in March 2017, what we call the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) that I will refer to from now on.

This number, 17 million, represents an increase of 20 percent compared to the last assessment made in June 2016, and we believe that from March to today, this number has already increased a lot.

Let me also clarify that out of these 17 million people that correspond to Phase 3 and 4 of the IPC scale classification (Phase 5 is Famine, just for reference). So of the people in Phase 3 and 4, which are 17 million, we have 7 million (about 40%) who are in Phase 4, close to famine, very close to famine.

We have also reported that people are already dying from hunger in many of the areas of basically the governorates of Abyan, Taiz, Shabwa and Hajjah, that concentrate 3 quarters of these 7 million that are on the edge of famine.

Our perspective is not good because if they don’t receive food immediately or cash transfers, those people will experience famine-like conditions(Phase 5).

The second point that I would like to present you is a broad view about what is going on in the field.

We are seeing ongoing conflict in many of the areas where food production is important, so it makes the movement of food supplies to local markets even more difficult, leading to scarcity and spiraling prices.

Crop production last year was already down about 40 percent, nearly half of what was usually produced in those areas before the conflict started. And because of poor rains we expect this year now, the harvest will be even lower this season. Let me say that the prospect for this summer season production is very low due to poor rains combined with the deterioration of access to farmlands. Simply, the farmers can not access their lands.

Combined with water scarcity, which is really of the main challenges in this moment in Yemen, and combined with the lack of proper sanitation, that is not in place, is increasing the risk of diseases, not only among human beings but also animals, the herds.

FAO is particularly worried the veterinary services that have completely collapsed. And this is increasing the number of high impact diseases that prevail in the area.

I will mention just a few,such as Peste des Petits Ruminants, brucellosis, sheep and goat pox, and foot-and-mouth disease. 

Unless we take steps to address the conflict now, we will never truly overcome the possibility of hunger in Yemen.

We wanted to highlight two main points as our conclusion.

We have limited funding, as all of us, but access makes things worse, more than the lack of funds. We simply can not act where we are most needed.

The second point is that if we don’t address the capacity of those people in rural areas (70 percent of the country’s population), we will not be able to have a prospect of a better future.

It is very important to protect the livelihoods in the environment where those people are living if we want to avoid that the situation becomes worse in the near future.