The United Nations food agency has warned that food supplies in Yemen are deteriorating quickly and the country is at risk of slipping into famine.
Ten out of Yemen’s 22 governorates were now classified as facing food insecurity at “emergency” levels, which is one step below famine, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday.
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“Clearly, Yemen is one of the hardest place in the world today to work – massive security concerns, escalation in the fighting, and the violence across the country,” Matthew Hollingworth, WFP’s deputy regional director, said in the capital, Sanaa.
“We are doing well, we are improving our reach and getting to more people every month, but clearly with half of the country now just one step away from famine, we need the international community to really come behind us and support us, particularly over the next few months,” he added.
According to the UN’s 2016 Humanitarian Needs Overview in November, 14.4 million people of the country’s 23 million are food insecure, struggling to get enough food to live a healthy life.
That includes 7.6 million people in desperate need of food assistance.
“It’s a country that cannot take any further shock,” Abeer Etefa, the WFP’s spokesperson for the Middle East region, told Al Jazeera.
“It’s a very serious situation. We are doing our best so that we don’t see a deterioration of the situation that’s already extremely compromised.”
‘People have nothing’
Since March, an Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia has conducted air strikes in Yemen in an effort to curb the expansion of the country’s Houthi rebels, who have fought government forces for control of the country.
The conflict has sparked a massive humanitarian crisis. More than 1.5 million people have been displaced, and many more are struggling to access the basic necessities, including food, water and fuel.
Battles have been going on for weeks in and around Taiz as forces loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi – supported by coalition air strikes – clash with Iran-backed Houthi rebels for control of the strategically located city, seen as a gateway between south Yemen and the capital.
“I appeal to all people of good will. Look at these displaced people. They are your brothers from Yemen. You must look at them and consider them. Help them with anything, food, clothes, mattresses,” a displaced Yemeni, Mohamed Ahmed Hassan, told the Reuters news agency.
“People here have nothing. They don’t even have anything to sleep on. They sleep on the ground,” Hassan said.
Additional reporting by Megan O’Toole – @