U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday that Yemen is close to experiencing the “worst famine the world has seen for decades.”
The alarm comes while the United States is threatening to sanction the Houthis in Yemen, who are aligned with Iran, as terrorists, Reuters reports. Such a move has some humanitarian workers worried that key aid supplies could be blocked from reaching the country that has been devastated by war, per Reuters.
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The U.N. estimates that 80% of the people living in Yemen are in need of humanitarian aid, making it the largest crisis currently in the world, reports Reuters. “In the absence of immediate action, millions of lives may be lost,” Guterres said. (RELATED: New Refugee Crisis Brewing As Ethiopia Descends Into Civil War)
U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock says the international body has only received about half the funds it needs this year for humanitarian operations in Yemen, Reuters says.
The country located at the bottom of the Arabian peninsula is in the midst of a civil war between government-backed forces and Houthi rebels. Saudia Arabia has intervened on behalf of the Yemeni government since 2015 with the backing of the United States and others. (RELATED: President Emmanuel Macron Issues Charter To French Muslim Leaders Prohibiting Foreign Interference, Political Islam)
Casualty totals are unclear, but the number of deaths directly attributed to the war surpassed 100,000 a little over one year ago. Millions of children and unknown numbers of adults in the country are malnourished due to the ongoing famine, caused in large part by a Saudi blockade, according to UNICEF.