Humanitarian organizations have warned that Yemen is close to famine following a 25 percent increase in severe hunger and Saudi Arabia’s assault on the key port city Hudaydah.
“We perceive the country to be sitting on a knife edge in terms of famine – it could tip at any time really,” said Suze van Meegen, a spokeswoman for the Norwegian Refugee Council on Monday.
“The desperation we are seeing is becoming greater – more people are begging in the streets,” she added.
The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) also announced that four in every 10 children under the age of five were now acutely malnourished.
“Averting famine in Yemen will be contingent on the ability of WFP and other humanity agencies to reach the populations in need to sustain humanitarian assistance,” said Yemen country director for the WFP said Stephen Anderson.
Backed by Saudi-led airstrikes, Emirati forces and militants loyal to Yemen’s former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, launched the Hudaydah offensive on June 13 despite international warnings that it would compound the impoverished nation’s humanitarian crisis.
The Saudi-led coalition claims that the Houthis are using Hudaydah for weapons delivery, an allegation rejected by the fighters.
Hudaydah is a major lifeline to more than 20 million Yemenis, most of whom are in need of humanitarian assistance due to a deadly Saudi-led war on the country launched in March 2015.
The Saudi-led war has killed and injured over 600,000 civilians, according to the latest figures released by the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights.
The coalition of aggressors has, however, failed to make any major gains in Hudaydah in the face of stiff resistance from Houthi fighters and their allied forces.