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UNITED NATIONS- The UN humanitarian chief, said that, Yemen now has 42 percent more areas of severe food insecurity, compared with figures from last year, citing a recent assessment.

Mark Lowcock, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said, among the 333 Yemeni districts, where the UN did the survey, 152 have a phase-four emergency of food crisis, compared to 107 last year.

Altogether, some 20 million Yemenis are hungry, accounting for 70 percent of the entire population and representing a 15-percent increase year on year, he said.

Alarmingly, about 250,000 Yemenis have entered phase five of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) this year, he said, noting, the number is 10 times larger than the people suffering the same food insecurity in South Sudan, the only other country that has a phase-five problem.

"We had never documented people in phase five in the food crisis in Yemen," said the under-secretary-general, adding, these people are overwhelmingly concentrated in four districts, including the port city of Hodeidah.

Lowcock said, the UN humanitarian operation is planning to reach 15 million Yemenis or over half of the total population next year. "Among those, we plan to provide 12 million with food or money to buy food."

To meet the target, the UN aims to appeal for four billion U.S. dollars in humanitarian aid for Yemen, and the secretary-general is expected to host a pledging conference in Geneva, in late Feb, Lowcock said.

The Yemeni warring parties are currently holding peace talks in Sweden, under the auspices of the UN.


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