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Donated UN food aid for Yemen’s most needy sold in markets to boost stallholders’ profits

Sky News’s Yemen team discovered shocking evidence that UN food aid intended for the most vulnerable is being sold on street markets in order to boost stallholders profits.

It was found that vegetable oil cans with World Food Programme stamps were being sold in Hodeidah as an essential food item. The can also had a WFP stamp and clearly displayed English text that said “not for sale”.

Our investigations revealed that the market stall at al Khokha also contained sacks of rice and flour. We also found large letters stating “not for sale”, which seemed to be donated by South Korean aid agencies.

Warning! This article may contain images that some might find disturbing


The shopkeeper initially denied that he was selling donated food aid when we confronted him. The shopkeeper tried to conceal the World Food Programme cereal packets we had seen on his counter.

Image This vegetable oils clearly states ‘not for Sale’
Image Large letters indicating ‘not for Sale’ were also found on sacks of flour and rice.

We continued pressing him, drawing attention to the large supply of donated cereals at the back of his shop. He admitted that he didn’t intend to sell the donated goods.

He then said he would stop the practice that day. This assurance was not believed by many who heard him, considering the large amount of donated aid in his small store.

He insisted, however, that he wasn’t the only one selling food aid and that he was providing a service to poor villagers.

“People come to see me who have been given food aid, but they must sell it to me to buy medicines for their children.” He tried to explain that they sell it and that I buy it in an urgent situation.

Image The shopkeeper initially denied that he was selling donated food assistance
Image Later, he claimed that he wasn’t the only one selling food aid.

Our investigation came as the United Nations’ latest figures revealed that Yemen’s eight-year-old war on Yemen has left children the most vulnerable.

UN statistics show that a child in Yemen dies every 10 minutes due to preventable causes. This is an alarmingly high rate of deaths from preventable causes.

An estimated 11 million Yemeni children are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Since Iran and Saudi Arabia announced dramatic breakthroughs, we are the first foreign journalists to enter Yemen. This has brought Yemen closer to peace after eight years of conflict.

We have discovered something both shocking and heartbreaking.

Ahad was weak and emaciated

Ahad, a three year-old girl, was brought to a clinic in al Khokha by her mother to seek help.

Image Ahad literally is starving to death

Her stretched skin showed her ribs. Her eyes were large in the middle of her gaunt face, and her limbs appeared massively elongated due to the lack of fat or muscle anywhere else on her body.

At three years old, she weighed only 3kg. That’s significantly less than the average newborn’s weight fresh from their mother’s womb.

Because she was so weak and emaciated, Ahad couldn’t sit or stand. Ahad also has Down’s syndrome, which is rare in this area. The nurses trying to care for her are powerless to stop her steady and unstoppable decline. She is literally starving.

The small hospital that operates in this area had just discharged her a few days ago, when she was 4kg. She’d lost a kilo in less than two weeks, which she couldn’t afford and could have devastating consequences for her health.

Saeed Saleh, her father, told us that his daughter keeps asking for more food. She cannot seem to eat anything.

Yemen’s tragedy is that Ahad is not an uncommon case. Ahad was being readmitted while Abdullah Mohammed Abdullah, a six month-old boy, was crying in his mother’s arms.

The nurses noticed that she was also malnourished as she rocked her baby boy backwards and forwards, and she tried to comfort him.

It was clear that she struggled to breastfeed. This could have been the reason her baby boy looked so jumbled and skeletal, with his starving eyes looking out from his skeletal body.

Continue reading:

Victims in the forgotten war

It seems like there is desperation everywhere. Nearly 9,000 people live in poverty at the al Jasha camp of internally displaced persons (IDP). This is where misery is guaranteed.

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What’s Happening in Yemen?

We arrived within seconds and were immediately surrounded by angry people asking for our help.

“We don’t have any food. Nothing, not even a little rice. Nothing. One man shouts, “We are suffocating and we are dying.”

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Yemen: ‘We can never do enough’

Recently, the UN humanitarian chief warned that important aid programmes are being cut due to funding cuts. Food rations for eight million Yemenis have been reduced.

It’s terrifying for millions to see a country in the grips de a humanitarian disaster.

Alex Crawford reports on Yemen with Zein Ja’far, Jake Britton, and Ahmed Baider


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