Three United Nations agencies have renewed pleas to a Saudi-led coalition to lift a blockade that has halted the flow of essential supplies into Yemen, warning that the lives of "untold thousands" of people are at stake.
"The cost of this blockade is being measured in the number of lives that are lost," the leaders of the World Food Program, the World Health Organization and UNICEF said in a statement.
The agencies said 7 million people are at risk of famine in Yemen and that number could increase by more than 3 million.
"Together, we issue another urgent appeal for the coalition to permit entry of lifesaving supplies to Yemen in response to what is now the worst humanitarian crisis in the world," the statement said.
Last week the coalition closed air, land and sea access to Yemen in response to a missile attack by Iran-backed Houthi rebels near the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
After widespread global criticism, Saudi Arabia has since partially eased some restrictions on ports controlled by Yemen, which is in the grips of a civil war. Saudi Arabia has allied with Yemen, intervening in the country in 2015 to resist Iran-backed Houthi rebels and to help restore President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to power.
The agencies warned that without fuel, food and medical supplies, water supply systems and waste water treatment plans would be disrupted, allowing the threat of famine to "grow by the day."
At least 1 million children could be exposed to diphtheria if a rapidly spreading outbreak is not contained, the agencies said. They also warned of a renewed flare-up of cholera, which was declining after the most explosive outbreak ever recorded, with more than 900,000 cases in the past six months.
The war in Yemen has claimed more than 10,000 lives and displaced an estimated 3 million people. Even before the civil war began in 2015, Yemen was the most impoverished Arab country in the world.
Source: Voice of America