The UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock Tuesday warned that Yemen is on the brink of widespread famine, with almost fifty percent of the population surviving on humanitarian aid alone, Al Jazeera reported.
While addressing the Security Council, he said, “there is a clear and present danger of an imminent and great big famine engulfing Yemen”, adding that the famine would be “much bigger than anything any professional in this field has seen during their working lives”.
He said that “the situation is now much graver” than when UN last warned of a risk of famine at the beginning of 2017 and again last November, because “of the sheer number of people at risk”.
Lowcock stated that last month’s estimate that 11 million people could soon face “pre-famine conditions” actually stood closer to 14 million – about half of Yemen’s population.
Earlier last month, Lowcock had said that the worsening food crisis was in large part the result of an intensification of fighting around the key port city of Hodeidah.
“Fierce clashes continue in Hodeidah, including intense fighting, shelling and air raids in Hodeidah City over the last several days,” Lowcock said Tuesday.
“Yemen is almost entirely reliant on imports for food, fuel and medicines,” Lowcock added. “And the available foreign exchange – from what little remains of oil exports, from money sent home by Yemenis out of the country, and from international assistance – has been simply inadequate to finance adequate levels of imports to support the population.”
Since June 13, the Saudi-UAE alliance had launched an operation to reassert their control over Hodeidah, due to it being a strategic seaport.
The port is currently under the control of Houthi rebels since 2014, along with other coastal cities and the majority of northern Yemen.