UN food agency chief fears famine in Yemen: 'It's the worst place on earth'

UN food agency chief fears famine in Yemen: 'It's the worst place on earth'
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The  head of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) said in an interview published Wednesday that Yemen was “hell” and “the worst place on Earth” after visiting the nation, which is on the brink of famine, earlier this week.

David Beasley told The Associated Press that he saw children on the brink of death when he visited a malnutrition ward in a hospital in Yemen’s capital city of Sanaa this week. The city is under attack by Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

“In a children’s wing or ward of a hospital, you know you normally hear crying, and laughter. There’s no crying, there’s no laughter, there’s dead silence,” he said while speaking to the AP from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “I went from room to room, and literally, children that in any other place in the world would be fine, they’d might get a little sick but they’d get recovered, but not here.”

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“This is hell,” he added. “It’s the worst place on earth. And it’s entirely man-made.”

According to Beasley, the world must wake up to the plight of the Yemeni people, particularly its youngest.

The former South Carolina governor told the news service that his agency would need $1.9 billion to meet its targets this year. The WFP needs at least $815 million to help Yemen over the next six months, but currently only has $300 million, according to Beasley.

The AP notes that aid organizations have struggled to reach areas controlled by Houthi rebels, but Beasley said his organization had made gains in that area. According to the WFP director, the only other obstacle at this moment is a lack of funding.

“We’ve turned a corner with the Houthis … in terms of cooperation, collaboration,” he told the AP.

Beasley said his agency may be forced to seek donations from private donors to combat hunger in Yemen. He acknowledged that funding could come from a new anonymous aid fund created by wealthy private donors called the Famine Relief Fund. The AP report that the donors could be from the U.S. or the Gulf. Beasley told the AP he was in talks with the fund, but did not elaborate.

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Beasley said the only stipulation that has been made in connection to the money is that it go to those who are on the edge of famine.

“My God, I’m going to take any dollar I can get from anywhere in the world to save the life of a child right now,” Beasley said.

He warned that more catastrophes could occur in the near future if world leaders do not prioritize aid to other struggling countries like Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Syria.