Zakat Foundation helpers have handed out 687 Ramadan food baskets in Yemen, feeding 4,809 of its poorest, sick, and internally displaced people in the hard-hit cities of Hudaida, Saada, Aden and Taiz in the run up to the assault on Yemen’s Red Sea city of Hudaida — the main port for food supplies to enter the country on the brink of famine.
“In Saada, under daily airstrikes, distribution in open areas is very dangerous and our volunteers have to go to individual homes,” said Aishah Jumaan, president of Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation (YRRF), one of Zakat Foundation of America’s humanitarian partners in Yemen.
Children make up more than 3,500 of those receiving Zakat Foundation-donated food.
“The lives of so many of Yemen’s innocent children hang by a thread,” said Halil Demir, Zakat Foundation executive director. “They need our urgent aid, especially from our American Muslim community.”
Zakat Foundation’s food basket distribution “covered more families than we anticipated” by our funding support costs, Jumaan said. She also tapped local donors in Aden for additional baskets, which typically contain more than 100 pounds of high nutrition, storable food staples, like rice, flour, oil (5 quarts), beans, tomato paste, sugar, juice, and dates.
YRRF staff closely qualifies families for the limited food baskets based on need and catastrophic illness.
Hussein Qasim has five daughters, Rasha, Shatha, Shomokh, Ashjan and Somod. Malnutrition has stunted Rasha’s growth. The eldest at 19, her legs and arms have shriveled. The Qasims rented a one-bedroom house for $25 a month after war displaced them from their Taiz home, but they struggle to pay it. The house is bare. The father sells ice cream to locals out of a thermos. His wife Hanan suffers debilitating back pain from a displaced vertebral disc but cannot afford care.
To the south, in Ibb, Amar’s father had to leave family and work to seek treatment for little Amar’s childhood leukemia in Sana’a, which has Yemen’s only cancer center. Amar’s doctors prescribed three weekly doses of chemotherapy after his diagnosis in October 2017. At first, father and son made the trek north every other day. They didn’t have money for housing in the capital.
Frequent trips on unpaved roads with countless checkpoints weakened Amar. His father finally left him at the cancer center and took up residence in an outside garden. Hospital administrators try to send them away, but they have nowhere to go. The eldest son in Ibb has quit school to support the family.
Multiply these agonizing tragedies by literally millions and magnify their anguish to endless and a glimpse of the daily human calamity of Yemen’s appalling death in slow motion comes into view.
“The most challenging part is turning people away during the food basket distributions,” Jumaan said. “People who are not registered come in and plead with the volunteers to include them. Also, other organizations and neighborhoods from all over Yemen contact us.
“We are grateful for the support we get from Zakat Foundation donors and hope to continue to work together with Zakat Foundation to help as many as we can.”
Yemen is the largest food insecurity emergency in the world. Some 15 million of its 27.5 million people have sunk into Phase 3 food crisis. This means they’ve tumbled three rungs down the five-phase Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) scale of acute food shortage. The people of one in five households either don’t eat for extended periods, causing malnutrition, or are selling off everything they own to minimally eat, until they have nothing left and then become malnourished.
Hudaida, the port city lifeline for 80 percent of Yemen’s food supply, has already suffered 10,000 war dead. The UN warns that another 40 percent — a staggering 250,000 — may die in the battle now raging for the port. Malnutrition threatens about 70 percent of its 600,000 residents, mostly children.
About 130 children die every day in Yemen from hunger and disease, according to Save the Children, with more than 50,000 projected to perish this year without food and treatment. Yemen suffers the largest cholera epidemic in history, with a million-plus infected, according to the UN’s World Health Organization.
Please feed the starving of war-ravaged Yemen here.