Yemen on the brink of famine: $2 billion in aid desperately needed, says UN

Published February 9th, 2017 - 05:00 GMT
Yemeni women sit with their malnourished children on September 26, 2016 in an impoverished coastal town. (AFP/File)
Yemeni women sit with their malnourished children on September 26, 2016 in an impoverished coastal town. (AFP/File)

Yemen could be on the brink of famine, the UN warned on Wednesday, as the organisation made a plea for $2.1 billion from the international community for aid to feed desperate Yemenis.

"Two years of war have devastated Yemen and millions of children, women and men desperately need our help," warned UN humanitarian aid chief Stephen O'Brien in a statement.

"Without international support, they may face the threat of famine in the course of 2017 and I urge donors to sustain and increase their support to our collective response."

Around 12 million of the nearly 19 million Yemeni population is expected to need assistance across Yemen this year.

Already a poor country, war since March 2015 has worsened the situation and led to some 10,000 deaths and thousands more injured.

Meanwhile, more than two million people remain displaced inside Yemen, according to UN numbers, while aid supplies to those most in need have all but stopped.

Aroun two-thirds of the population in need of aid, while more than 10 million people need immediate, life-saving aid, including more than two million children who are acutely malnourished.

Nearly half a million children under-five were meanwhile suffering from life-threatening severe, acute malnutrition at the end of 2016 - a 57-percent increase over 2015, Wednesday's report said.

Last year, UN agencies and other partners provided aid to 5.6 million people in Yemen. This year, they hope to more than double that number.

The country is almost entirely dependent on imports, most of which transit through the Hodeidah port, which was bombed by the coalition in 2015.

And the Saudi-led coalition's shutdown of the Sanaa airport in August 2016 has had a heavy toll on civilians because medicine cannot be flown in and Yemenis cannot receive treatment abroad.

Rebel Houthi blockades - in cities such as al-Taiz - have also led to terrible conditions in other areas of Yemen.


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