The head of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), Johannes Van Der Klaauw, has warned that after almost five months of fighting, a lack of unhindered access to people who urgently need humanitarian assistance and a shortage of funding are creating the possibility of famine for millions in Yemen.
Almost 4,500 people have been killed and a further 23,000 have been wounded since the escalation in March of the conflict between forces loyal to the exiled President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement.
Since 26 March, when the Saudi-led coalition began bombing rebel forces, at least 1,950 civilians have been killed and 4,271 wounded in air strikes and fighting on the ground, according to the UN.
The destruction of infrastructure and restrictions on imports imposed by a Saudi-led coalition carrying out air strikes against the rebels have led to 21 million people being deprived of life-sustaining commodities and basic services, and requiring help from aid organizations.
Just under half of Yemen’s population is under 18 and almost 400 children are among those to have been killed. The UN children’s fund (Unicef) warned on 19 August that an average of eight children were being killed or maimed every day.
An estimated 12.9 million people are now considered food insecure, an increase of 20% in six months, according to the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP). Six million are severely food insecure, while more than 1.2 million children are suffering from moderate acute malnutrition and half a million are severely malnourished.