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YEMEN: WFP to extend food aid programme in Saada region

SANAA, 10 December 2007 (IRIN) - The UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Yemen has said it will extend its food aid for displaced and insurgency-affected people in Saada Province in northern Yemen until March 2008. The improved security situation will allow food aid to reach many more people in region.

WFP Yemen Country Director Mohamed El-Kouhene told IRIN on 9 December aid would reach about 77,000 people a month, more than double the number than in previous months.

In June 2007 WFP began providing food assistance to 20,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Saada town. A three-month emergency operation was launched in September 2007 to assist 36,000 IDPs with 2,442 metric tonnes of food at a total cost of US$1.7 million.

"There are a lot of people who have been forced to leave their homes and become displaced. Their needs in terms of food are expanding when they don't have access to their farms or income sources. Their houses and farms have been either destroyed or looted. That is why we are providing them with daily rations. We are currently distributing about 600 tonnes of food in Saada region a month," he said.

The standard food basket for beneficiaries in Saada is calculated to provide 2,100 kcal per person per day. The basket includes wheat, oil, pulses, sugar, and salt. In addition, high energy biscuits are being given to children under five.

According to El-Kouhene, the food aid is also aimed at areas outside Saada city, where an improvement in the security situation has made it easier to deliver aid.

Funding shortfall

The agency said it had appealed for funds to make up a shortfall of US$3.3 million for the new extension. "If there is gap, we try to fill that gap by borrowing from the stocks of our ongoing programmes in Yemen and then replenishing what was borrowed when we receive contributions. That is how we manage to resource our operations," El-Kouhene said, adding that he was told on 8 December that the UK would donate 100,000 pounds (about $200,000) to the Saada operation.

The recent operations to supply food had been a major achievement: "Without doubt we managed to save lives," he said.

Fighting between government forces and Shia rebels in the Saada region began in 2004 and escalated early this year. There is still tension between the two sides despite a peace agreement signed in June 2007.

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Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.



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