After more than seven years of war, more than 23 million Yemenis face worsening hunger, disease, and a collapsing economy among life-threatening risks, while the conflict in Ukraine may could make things even harder for the hungry population, according to the United Nations.
UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths on Wednesday is to launch an appeal for an almost $4.3 billion aid package for war-stricken Yemen hosted by the UN, Sweden, and Switzerland to help over 17 million people in the country, situated at the Arabian Peninsula's southwestern corner.
"That's a lot of money to raise, and many crises are getting worse, like Afghanistan and parts of the Horn of Africa. But the war in Ukraine has added another appeal in the billions of dollars," Griffiths told journalists at the UN offices in Geneva.
Griffiths said: "Ending the war in Ukraine now is of greatest importance because, as it goes on, it has secondary and tertiary impacts upon the new harvest, the new planting season – Ukraine is a breadbasket."
He said that almost three-quarters of Yemen's population will depend on humanitarian assistance and protection in 2022.
"And it is this figure, this proportion that makes us often say that Yemen's humanitarian condition is among the worst in the world," said Griffiths
The risks for embattled Yemenis have risen 13% from 2021 as the country's essential services and economy are collapsing, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will address the appeal.
Griffiths said around 161,000 people will soon be facing catastrophic food insecurity, "a harbinger of the fate of a staggering 7.1 million who are just one step behind this ultimate stage of humanitarian crisis."
Despite the UN's best efforts, the aid lifeline for people across Yemen is faltering, he said.
"We have never in the past contemplated giving millions of hungry people no food at all or to cut away life-saving services for infants or pregnant women," said Griffiths.
"I fear that if the funding gap isn't addressed, it will simply be a death sentence for people."
At a UN press conference, Richard Ragan, the World Food Program representative in Yemen, said that life in the country is bleak.
For years the war-torn country has been "at the brink of catastrophe, the brink of famine,” adding that now he believes we “really are at a crossroads at this point in the conflict."
Yemen gets almost a million tons of grain from Ukraine and nearly another million tons from Russia, said Ragan.
The World Food Program is responsible for its humanitarian programs of also providing about a million tons of grain a year.
"So, the potential impact of what's going on in Ukraine will have a very immediate and dramatic impact on us here in Yemen," said the World Food Program official.
Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014, when Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.
According to the UN, the conflict has created one of the world's worst man-made humanitarian crises.