The Government of Japan and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) have signed a new agreement in Rome that will provide US$7.1 million in emergency food assistance for almost half a million Yemenis. WFP will use the Japanese donation, equivalent to 580 million Japanese Yen, to purchase more than 10,000 metric tons of wheat for its emergency safety net programme, under which monthly rations are delivered to food insecure households during the six months of Yemen’s “hunger season” between May and October. “The government of Japan is eager to contribute to alleviating the suffering caused by food shortages across Yemen,  which is going through a very critical juncture on the humanitarian and political fronts,” said Ambassador of Japan in Yemen H.E. Katsuyoshi Hayashi. “This is the second batch of Japan’s humanitarian aid to Yemen in 2012 bringing the total amount of Japanese food assistance to Yemen this year to US$14.6 million.” Japan is the fourth largest donor supporting WFP activities in Yemen as well as WFP’s fourth largest single donor globally supporting the UN food agency with over US$140 in 2012. “This is an especially welcome donation that will allow us to continue our operations into 2013,” said WFP Country Director Lubna Alaman. “We are particularly grateful for the timely and generous response to an appeal we made to the Japanese Government for supporting emergency food assistance programmes that were threatened by a lack of resources.” A WFP Comprehensive Food Security Survey earlier this year found that more than 10 million Yemenis – almost 45 percent of the population – are food insecure. Out of those, more than 5 million Yemenis were found to be severely food insecure – a level of need that means they are unable to produce or buy the food they need and require food assistance because. WFP has scaled up its operations in Yemen to reach 5.5 million people this year and plans to assist a similar number in 2013.