Yemen famine ‘has never looked more likely’ with hundreds of thousands at risk of starvation, UK government says

A famine in Yemen “has never looked more likely” – with hundreds of thousands now at risk of starvation, the UK government has said.

The country has been devastated by a war that has raged since 2014 between Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi’s administration and the Houthi armed movement, both of which claim to form the official government.

Mr Hadi’s government is supported by a coalition of powerful countries headed by Saudi Arabia but also backed by Britain, the US and the United Arab Emirates.

And with the existing crisis now being worsened by coronavirus, the United Nations says more than 20 million people require urgent humanitarian assistance due to the ongoing conflict – almost half of them children.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK would provide another £5.8m in UK aid to help avert a famine in Yemen.

His department said UK support would help at least 500,000 vulnerable people each month to buy food and household essentials, including soap and medicine.

And speaking in New York at a meeting of permanent UN Security Council members, Mr Raab said: “The humanitarian situation in Yemen is now the worst it has ever been, and compounded with the threat of coronavirus, the country has never looked more likely to slide into famine.

“Unless donors urgently act now and follow through on their pledges, hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of dying simply from starvation.”

Mr Raab also called for “unwavering support” for plans to secure a ceasefire that ends the suffering.

The UK’s first special envoy for famine prevention and humanitarian affairs, Nick Dyer, said he would be urgently raising the increasing risk of famine with allies over coming weeks in an effort to prompt action.

“There is no plan B for Yemen,” he said.

“The wartorn country is facing an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe, with hundreds of thousands at risk, unless world leaders take urgent action now.”

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