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UN says Yemen on edge of famine from conflict, blocked ports

Published:Wednesday | August 19, 2015 | 4:49 PM
Yemeni women hold their children in the capital Sanaa, during a visit by Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme.


The war in Yemen has pushed the country to the brink of famine, with both commercial food imports and aid deliveries held up by the fighting and millions

of hungry women and children facing possible starvation, the United Nations (UN) said yesterday.

Ertharin Cousin, head of the UN's World Food Programme, said while some food aid is flowing in, fighting around major ports is stalling deliveries, while reaching the country's interior is proving difficult and donor funding is still falling short.

"If we do not receive the additional access that is required to meet the needs of those who are affected by this ongoing conflict, if we cannot support the commercial markets by ensuring that the ports are open and providing food to ensure that those who have resources can buy the food that is necessary, and if we do not see increased donor support, we are facing the perfect storm in Yemen," she told reporters in Cairo.

UN humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien, who also just returned from Yemen, told the UN Security Council "the scale of human suffering is almost incomprehensible".

He said he was shocked by what he saw: Four out of five Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance, nearly 1.5 million people are internally displaced, and people were using cardboard for mattresses at a hospital where lights flickered, the blood bank had closed and there were no more examination gloves.