Director of World Food Programme David Beasley held discussions with filmmaker Skye Fitzgerald (available at hungerward.org) after the online release of a documentary film on the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen, titled Hunger Ward on April 9.
The new 30-minute film focuses on the terrible plight and death rate of malnourished children in Yemen, featuring coverage at the Sadaqa Hospital in Aden, the West Asian Nation’s largest hospital; and the Aslan Clinic, the largest Malnutrition Treatment Centre in northern Yemen. The scenes and the words of the Medical Directors – Dr Aida Alsdeeq in Aden and Nurse Mekkiah Mahdi at the Aslan Clinic – are gripping. The film also shows the horror of the wreckage of a Saudi missile strike on a funeral gathering in Yemen, with shoes of dozens of the dead still scattered in the rubble of the ruins. The postscript states simply that Saudi Arabia, with US backing, is still waging war against Yemen, and that France, Germany, other nations, and the Houthis are complicit.
Beasley has given this documentary advance publicity to mobilise world attention on the growing famine in Yemen. Speaking at a virtual forum at the Biden Institute, the University of Delaware, on April 7, he repeatedly stressed that the warfare must stop and that famine was “man-made”. He said that in the next 10 days, he would visit Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, and if possible, Venezuela, because of the worsening food situations, there.
Beasley gave the Delaware students a status report on World Hunger, showing how it was increasing. He said that when he had come into office in 2017, there were 700 million hungry people globally, and 80 million were on the brink of starvation. The number the people, who were on the brink of starvation, increased to 135 million just before COVID-19 rocked the world. Today, that number is 270 million. Out of this number, 34 million are nearing the point of starvation. He called it phase 3 to 4 (on the UN scale, called Integrated Phase Classification (IPC), No 1 is considered as real, but minimal food insecurity; No 2 stressed; No 3 crisis; No 4 emergency and No 5 is considered as famine).
Beasley went into a “breakdown by country”, according to the IPC scale. This includes, for example, 19-21 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo are in Phase 4; and 19 million in Afghanistan are in Phase 3 to 4. While “Syria is imploding”, Haiti is in crisis, he added.
Beasley further called for USD 5 billion for World Anti-famine Work, on top of the ongoing anti-hunger funding. “We have a vaccine for starvation … it’s called food,” he stressed. When asked about nutritious food, Beasley said, in essence, that, of course, that was necessary. However, he explained to the student the fact that “food for survival” was now the issue before the Global Community. He declared that the WFP budget was covered at USD 5.9 billion in 2017… then, it rose to USD 8.9 billion in 2020, saying that was not enough. This year, it needs to be in the USD 15 billion range. He recognised that the US increased its contribution to the WFP from USD 1.9 billion four years ago, up to USD 3.47 billion. He also identified that while Washington was typically “fighting over everything, with rinky-dink concerns”, there has been a bipartisan agreement on food aid. He scored the billionaires, who watch the deaths happen, stating: “I get upset … in 2020, a new billionaire was created every 17 hours.” There were 493 new billionaires created in 2020. “And, all I need is USD 5 billion,” insisted Beasley.
Boundless Ocean of Politics has received this article from Christopher Lewis of Schiller Institute, Frankfurt, Germany.
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