Aden – Seven million Yemenis are closer than ever to starvation, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in the country warned on Tuesday, almost two years since a conflict escalated between the government and rebels.
“Seven million Yemenis do not know where their next meal will come from and are ever closer to starvation” in a country of 27 million people, Jamie McGoldrick said.
“Over 17 million people are currently unable to adequately feed themselves and are frequently forced to skip meals — women and girls eat the least and last,” he said in a statement.
“I am deeply concerned with the escalation of conflict and militarization of Yemen’s western coast. It is coming at a great cost to civilians,” McGoldrick said.
Unexploded rockets have landed inside the rebel-held port of Hodeida, he said, “reducing even further the number of ships and imports” vital for Yemen’s food supplies.
“Given that the country is 80-90 percent dependent on imported food staples, I am compelled to raise the alarm,” the U.N. official said.
“If left unabated, these factors combined could accelerate the onset of famine.”
Also on Tuesday, the U.N. children’s agency warned that 462,000 children were suffering from acute malnutrition.
The U.N. aid chief warned last month that the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country was sliding deeper into humanitarian crisis and could face famine this year.
Stephen O’Brien said that without “immediate action,” famine was “a possible scenario for 2017.”
More than 7,400 people have been killed since the intervention began nearly two years ago, including around 1,400 children, according to the United Nations.