A UN humanitarian agency on Sunday warned that more than 16 million people in Yemen would go hungry this year, with already some half a million people in the war-torn country living in famine-like conditions.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, said the risk of large-scale famine in the Arab world's poorest country “has never been more acute,” adding that the years-long conflict, economic decline, and institutional collapse created enormous humanitarian needs in all sectors.
The stark warning comes a day before a pledging conference co-hosted by Sweden and Switzerland.
The U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will appeal for USD 3.85 billion in relief aid for Yemen this year. The response to the U.N. Appeal is unlikely to meet expectations, given that the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating consequences hit economies around the globe.
Wealthy Gulf donors such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which contributed generously to U.N. Appeals in 2018 and 2019, cut back drastically on aid to Yemen last year.
Yemen's war started in 2014 when the Houthi rebels seized the capital, Sanaa, and much of the country's north. The Saudi-led, U.S.-backed coalition intervened months later to dislodge the rebels and restore the internationally recognised government.
The conflict has killed some 130,000 people and spawned the world's worst humanitarian disaster.