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Yemen 'one step away from famine', UN warns

Millions are facing emergent food insecurity [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 December, 2020

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Thousands are already facing a 'catastrophic, famine-like situation' in Yemen.
Thousands of people in Yemen are at risk of famine with time to prevent a disaster rapidly slipping away, United Nations agencies warned on Thursday.

Around 16,500 are already facing a "catastrophic, famine-like situation", the World Health Organisation said in a new food security assessment for war-torn Yemen.

That figure could increase to 47,000 people by June next year, the WHO added.

More than half of the country's 30-million population is at risk of "worsening levels of hunger" by mid-2021, a statement by the World Food Programme, Unicef and the Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Thursday.

The UN agencies warned that the number of people facing the emergency phase four of food insecurity was likely to increase from 3.6 million to 5 million in the first half of 2021.

Less than half of the necessary emergency aid funds called for by the UN have been allocated this year, the agencies added.

"These alarming numbers must be a wake-up call to the world. Yemen is on the brink of famine and we must not turn our backs on the millions of families who are now in desperate need," said David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme.

Muhsin Siddiquey, Yemen director for Oxfam, added: "It's intolerable that millions of people in Yemen are one step away from famine and are struggling with catastrophic levels of hunger alongside conflict, Covid and cholera.

"And yet, donors have given barely half the money needed this year to provide the most vulnerable people with basic necessities like clean water, food and medicine."

Yemen was engulfed by conflict when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels captured the capital Sanaa in 2014. A Saudi-led international coalition soon intervened on behalf of the government.

More than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in the conflict since then.

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