The international community has been asked to redouble efforts to support Yemen as it faces looming famine and the world's largest cholera outbreak in the midst of conflict.

The call has been made by the head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in the country, Auke Lootsma, who briefed journalists in New York on Tuesday.

Dianne Penn reports.

The UNDP Country Director explained that 20 million Yemenis, or 70 per cent of the population, require humanitarian assistance, making it the world's largest food security crisis.

At the same time, nearly 400,000 cases of cholera have been recorded in recent months, while scores of medical personnel and other civil servants have not been paid in nearly a year.

These crises are playing out against a backdrop of three years of fighting between rebel forces and government troops, supported by a Saudi-led coalition.

Speaking from the capital, Sana'a, Mr Lootsma described the situation in Yemen as akin to a bus careening towards a cliff edge, with the driver intent on crashing.

He called on the international community to redouble efforts to support the country's people.

"I think we can still stop this bus and turn it around before it goes over the edge of the cliff, but time is really running out. And it's really running out to find the brakes and stop this from happening."

The UNDP official urged Yemen's warring parties to provide aid workers with humanitarian access to those in need.

He added that a US$2.1 billion appeal for the country is less than half-funded.

Source: United Nations Radio

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