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Famine declared in Yemen: Armed Conflict named as the main cause

The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (‘IPC’) analysis from December 2018 to January 2019 reveals that there are approximately 65,000 people in IPC Phase 5 Catastrophe / Famine. This declaration translates to at least two people out of every 10,000 dying each day.

The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (‘IPC’) analysis from December 2018 to January 2019 reveals that there are approximately 65,000 people in IPC Phase 5 Catastrophe / Famine. This declaration translates to at least two people out of every 10,000 dying each day.

The statistics are harrowing in Yemen, even prior to this famine declaration, the numbers of those severely acutely malnourished and on nutrition support are unprecedented. 

As noted by the IPC, “Armed conflict remains the main driver of food insecurity in Yemen, curtailing food access for both the displaced and the host communities. The food security crisis is further exacerbated by extremely high food prices, the liquidity crisis, disrupted livelihoods, and high levels of unemployment.”

It is telling that the declaration of famine has been made by the Global IPC Steering Committee and is not necessarily endorsed by the Technical Working Group in Yemen. Reaching consensus on famine declarations are notoriously fraught. 

The IPC is a classification and analytical approach enabling Governments, UN Agencies, NGOs, civil society and other relevant actors, to work together to determine the severity and magnitude of acute and chronic food insecurity, and acute malnutrition situations in a country, according to internationally-recognised scientific standards. It has five severity phases:

  1. Minimal/None
  2. Stressed
  3. Crisis
  4. Emergency
  5. Catastrophe/Famine.

Classifying Famine (IPC Phase 5), the fifth stage of food insecurity, is a technically rigorous process that requires meeting three specific criteria:

  1. At least one in five households faces an extreme lack of food
  2. More than 30 percent of children under 5 are suffering from acute malnutrition (wasting)
  3. At least two people out of every 10,000 are dying each day

It is defined as, “Even with any humanitarian assistance at least one in five households in the area have an extreme lack of food and other basic needs where starvation, death, and destitution are evident. Evidence for all three criteria (food consumption, acute malnutrition, and mortality) is required to classify Famine.”

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