(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Muscat- Even before fighting broke out in early 2015, Yemen was one of the poorest countries in the Arab world. The nearly four years of conflict has left the country in tatters with 15.9mn people waking up hungry every day.
It is estimated that in the absence of food assistance, largely from the UN World Food Programme (WFP), this would go up to 20mn.
In partnership with WFP, an Omani company, Salalah Mills, is helping to fight hunger, milling about 500 tonnes of wheat every day to be trucked to the war-torn country. Here, Port of Salalah is acting as the crucial gateway for this humanitarian support.
'Once the Port of Hodeidah was blocked, we said, let's get to Port of Salalah and bring the food in from there . We sent a team to Salalah, and they made contacts with the mill and the port. Every day, 500 tonnes of wheat flour are being milled there and then trucked across the border into Yemen,' Jakob Kern, Director of Supply Chain, WFP, said.
According to WFP, two-thirds of the Yemeni population, or 18mn, do not know where their next meal is coming from, while 8mn remain precariously close to famine.
Salalah Mills has stated in its annual report that its export to Yemen surged considerably in 2018. 'The management signed a contract with WFP in September 2018 to provide wheat milling service for supply to Yemen,' it stated. 'On account of the contract, the export to Yemen increased by 65.5 per cent in 2018 compared to the previous year.'
An senior official at the company said that the contract for the milling will run through 2019.
Speaking toMuscat Daily
, Mark Hardiman, CEO, Port of Salalah, said, 'We have the WFP cargo coming by the port and then later it is being trucked over to Yemen.'
He added that proximity to the border with Yemen is a good advantage for the port. 'And obviously with the infrastructure that has been damaged in Yemen, I think there is good opportunity there. So we are having extra volumes because of the situation in Yemen.'
Aiming to feed 12mn of the 30.5mn total population every month, WFP's emergency response in Yemen is its largest anywhere in the world.
The current level of hunger in Yemen is unprecedented and is causing severe hardship for millions of people, stated WFP. 'The rate of child malnutrition is one of the highest in the world and the nutrition situation continues to deteriorate. A recent survey showed that almost one third of families have gaps in their diets, and hardly ever consume foods like pulses, vegetables, fruits, dairy products or meat. 'Some 3mn pregnant and nursing women and children under five need support to prevent or cure malnutrition. In 2019, WFP is gradually expanding its assistance to reach all of them with special nutrition support.'
WFP said that it is running a race against time, massively boosting its malnutrition prevention campaign for 2019. WFP's average monthly requirements in 2019 are set to increase to around US$176mn. The agency requires US$1.5bn to ensure uninterrupted food assistance in Yemen throughout 2019.