The UN humanitarian affairs office, the OCHA, said on Tuesday that 8.4 million people — out of Yemen’s population of 29 million — were now at risk of famine, up from 6.8 million in 2017.
According to the OCHA, a total of 22.2 million people, or 76 percent of Yemen’s population, are dependent on some form of aid, an increase of 1.5 million people over the past six months.
The humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Yemen has been worsened by a crippling Saudi-led blockade.
At least 13,600 people have been killed since the onset of Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Yemen in 2015. Much of the Arabian Peninsula country's infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble due to the war.
The Saudi-led war has also triggered deadly epidemics of infectious diseases, especially diphtheria and cholera, across Yemen.
According to the World Health Organization’s latest count, the cholera outbreak has killed 2,167 people since the end of April and is suspected to have infected more than one million people. About 4,000 suspected cases were being reported daily, more than half of which were among children under 18. Children under five account for a quarter of all cases.
The United Nations' efforts to address what it has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis have been hampered by a crippling blockade imposed by the Saudi-led aggressors.
"We appeal to parties on the ground in order to stave off famine that we can continue regularly to get food, medicines in, be it from the humanitarian or the commercial side," Bettina Luescher of the UN's World Food Programme told a Geneva briefing.
The program's Yemen director, Stephen Anderson, said on Tuesday: "If the ports are restricted again we could face a catastrophic loss of life if we can't get supplies to people," he told Reuters by phone from Hudaydah on Monday.
Yemenis are facing "an extremely bleak outlook", with continued conflict, high fuel and food prices and diseases such as the cholera outbreak and the spread of diphtheria, Anderson added.