Tuesday, June 15, 2010

World Food Programme may have to shut down operations in Yemen

The World Food Programme provides food to a half a million people in Yemen. But the WFP says that it may have to suspend operations in the country in August. The WFP says a lack of donations from UN member countries are to blame. Donations have dropped to the WFP since the start of the global economic crisis.

From Reuters, writer Raissa Kasolowsky sheds more light on the WFP troubles.

"With the current funding situation, we will have to cease operations by the end of August," said Gian Carlo Cirri, the WFP representative in Yemen, where one in three people suffer from chronic hunger. "The situation is extremely serious."

The WFP says it would need $75 million to continue operations for the duration of 2010 in impoverished Yemen, which is trying at once to cement a truce with northern rebels, quell separatism in the south and fight a resurgent al Qaeda arm.

Growing instability in Yemen is a major global security concern since a Yemen-based regional arm of al Qaeda claimed responsibility for a failed December attempt to bomb a U.S.-bound plane.

Western allies and neighbouring Saudi Arabia fear al Qaeda could exploit poverty and chaos in Yemen to use it as a base for destabilising attacks in the region and beyond. They want Yemen to resolve its domestic conflicts and consolidate power.

But Yemen, strategically located next door to top oil exporter Saudi Arabia but with fewer resources, is also trying to avert economic disaster for many, including around 350,000 displaced by the northern war, most of whom receive WFP support.

Meanwhile, donations to the WFP have fallen sharply as the financial crisis continues to dog many donor countries, Cirri said. In addition, many funds were diverted to Haiti after the Caribbean state was hit by a devastating earthquake in January. That has meant Yemen has had to do with less.

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