"Famine-like conditions" in areas of Yemen - WFP
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA, April 20 (Reuters) - "Famine-like conditions" have been detected in areas of Yemen, although an official declaration of famine has yet to be made, the U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP) told Reuters on Thursday.
Yemen is reeling from two years of civil war that pits the Iran-allied Houthi rebels against a Western-backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia. At least 10,000 people have been killed in the fighting that has unleashed a humanitarian crisis.
The impoverished country is among four - along with South Sudan, Somalia and northeast Nigeria - that face famine, although it has only been declared in some areas of South Sudan.
"There are famine-like conditions in the country (Yemen)," WFP spokeswoman Emilia Casella told Reuters in response to a query.
Such conditions prevail in parts of Taiz, Hodeida, Lajh, Abyan and Sadaa, although access is difficult, she said, speaking from WFP headquarters in Rome.
"Those are priority governorates, districts where there are areas where there are famine-like conditions," she said, adding that families in these areas receive full rations.
Some 6.7 million people in Yemen are classified in phase 4 on an international scale of food security, with phase 5 constituting a famine, she noted. "We really need to act now before it falls into official famine."
The United Nations is hosting a major pledging conference for Yemen in Geneva on Tuesday. The world body has appealed for $2.1 billion to provide food and other life-saving aid, saying that Yemen's economy and institutions are collapsing. Continued...