Rome  –  More than half of the total population of Yemen – some 14.4 million people – are food insecure, as ongoing conflict and import restrictions have reduced the availability of essential foods and sent prices soaring, FAO said on Thursday.The number of food insecure people has grown by 12 percent since June 2015 (36 percent since late 2014), according to the UN agency.“Food insecurity and malnutrition are becoming highly critical,” said Salah Elhajj Hassan, FAO Representative in Yemen, calling for urgent support to assist families in growing food and protect their livestock as well as measures to facilitate much-needed food and fuel imports. “The numbers are staggering,” added Etienne Peterschmitt, FAO Deputy Representative and Emergency Response Team Leader in Yemen, who called the situation “a forgotten crisis, with millions of people in urgent need across the country.”“Under these critical conditions, it’s more important than ever to help families produce their own food and reduce their dependence on increasingly scarce and costly food imports,” he added.Fuel shortages and restrictions on imports – which Yemen relies on for more than 90 percent of its staple foods – have reduced the availability of essential food commodities and caused food and fuel prices to soar since conflict escalated in March 2015.Yemen is heavily dependent on these imports, as only 4 percent of the country’s land is arable and only a fraction of that land is currently used for food production.According to the UN agency, some 2.3 million people are internally displaced within Yemen.Reflecting growing needs, FAO has increased its annual funding appeal for Yemen from previous years to $25 million in 2016 to help families produce food and build resilience with a variety of activities.With MAP

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