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Yemen Flash Appeal 2009
An estimated 150 000 people in Yemen are displaced as a result of past and renewed conflict between Al Houthi rebels and the Government. Following five rounds of fighting since the onset of hostilities in 2004 and the last ceasefire of 2008, clashes resumed in July 2009 and escalated into open hostilities on 12 August. The violence, affecting 11 out of 15 districts in Sa’ada, as well as Al-Jawf and Amran governorates, has forced tens of thousands to flee their homes, with numerous families suffering multiple displacements.
There is great concern also for those unable to escape areas of intense fighting, which lie outside the reach of humanitarian aid. The current crisis is compounding an already serious situation of poverty and lack of basic services, affecting inhabitants of conflict zones, displaced persons and host communities alike. During years of conflict, they have exhausted their coping strategies and become increasingly vulnerable. Prior to the current crisis, humanitarian agencies were already addressing the needs of 95 000 people affected by previous rounds of fighting.
The intensity of the conflict has curtailed humanitarian access, hindering needs assessments and the delivery of aid. Affected groups lack life-sustaining support, including food, water, sanitation, productive assets, essential domestic items, protection and health care. Where security conditions have allowed, assessments have been undertaken and in-country stocks of relief items have reached communities in need. The establishment of a High-level Inter-Ministerial Committee for Relief Operations and Relief Coordination Committees at local level in mid-August, followed by the Government’s expressed commitment to facilitate humanitarian assistance, have improved prospects for access to affected communities and enhanced coordination.
The Yemen Flash Appeal 2009 was launched on 3 September in coordination with the Government to address the critical needs identified and estimated thus far during the acute phase of emergency. Humanitarian requirements, which will be further assessed and updated in the coming weeks, address food, health, nutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene, shelter and non-food items, emergency education and protection and agriculture.
Challenges facing food security and agriculture
Rural households comprise 80-90 percent of the population in the northern governorates of Yemen. Agriculture provides the primary means of livelihood for the large portion of families in conflict-affected areas. Livestock production, in particular, is a vital source of nutrition and income. Even amidst the struggle to safely flee conflict zones, many families brought their animals on their journey.
According to estimates of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 30 percent of displaced households in Haradh arrived with livestock. Keeping livestock alive is a time-critical challenge that must be met with urgency. These animals represent a lifeline for a large number of affected families. Without assistance, many risk losing their sole, assured source of food and livelihood.
Concern for animal survival and health is on the rise due to lack of access to natural grazing pastures and feed. Increasing incidence of animal disease – such as Old World Screwworm (OWS) and peste des petits ruminants (PPR), among others – is further threatening livestock survival and reducing productivity. Preventing further loss of productive assets is vital for the capacity of affected populations to survive, access nutrition and provide for their families in a sustainable way, until recovery interventions are possible.
Within the framework of theYemen Flash Appeal 2009, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is appealing for USD 700 000 to provide emergency agricultural assistance to affected groups most in need. The assistance aims to maintain the food security status of affected populations, prevent the further loss of productive assets and support the capacity of host communities to absorb displaced groups settling outside of camps. With donor funding, FAO’s activities seek to:
- provide animal feed to accessible displaced populations and their host communities that have limited access to pastureland; and
- supply drugs and medicine to veterinarians and community animal health workers to prevent the spread of OWS and PPR.