Yemen needs $2 bln in emergency aid as millions face death by hunger

More than 10,000 people have been killed in the full-blown civil war since 2015, and millions have been displaced.

Yemen needs $2 billion in emergency food aid
Girls stand at the entrance to their tent at a camp for internally displaced people in the northwestern city of Saada, Yemen January 30, 2017. REUTERS/Naif Rahm

Millions of children and women in Yemen are urgently in need of food aid as widespread famine has gripped the war-torn country, the UN has said. The alarming report says that around 12 million of the total Yemeni population of 19 million will need food aid this year, without which they would face acute hunger. The UN estimates an aid corpus of about $ 2 billion is required to feed the crippled population.

"Two years of war have devastated Yemen and millions of children, women and men desperately need our help," warned UN humanitarian aid chief said.

"Without international support, they may face the threat of famine in the course of 2017 and I urge donors to sustain and increase their support to our collective response," Stephen O'Brien added.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in the full-blown civil war since 2015, and millions have been displaced. Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces have been pounding the Iran-allied Houthi Shia strongholds with heavy bombardment, leaving the country sharply divided. UN says the economy has collapsed and the country that depends totally on imports has practically shut down.

Lack of enough food has left nearly 3.3 million people, including 2.1 million children, severely malnourished. The closure of Sanaa airport in August 2016 by Saudi Arabia has dealt another blow to te civilians as they are deprived of critical supplies of medicines. There are 460,000 children under age five who suffer from severe malnutrition and are vulnerable to fatal illnesses, Reuters reported.

Jamie McGoldrick, U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, said around 55 percent of Yemen's medical facilities are dysfunctional and the government has no operational budget.

"Many of the people never make it to the feeding centers or the hospitals because they can't afford the transport ... Many people die silent and unrecorded deaths, they die at home, they are buried before they are ever recorded," he said.