0811 GMT January 15, 2021
A Saudi-led war on Yemen has caused what the United Nations describes as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
Some 80% of Yemen’s population are reliant on aid and millions face hunger, Reuters reported.
“The health system was already under heavy stress and will now be overwhelmed if COVID-19 continues to spread and in addition it will affect the movement of people and the movement of goods,” Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, the FAO’s assistant director-general and regional representative for the Near East and North Africa, told Reuters.
“That situation could be really catastrophic if all the elements of worst case scenarios come to be but let’s hope not and the UN are working on avoiding that.”
Yemen, alongside Syria and Sudan, is one of the most vulnerable states in the Middle East in terms of food security.
Lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus are likely to impact humanitarian supply chains keeping a large part of the population fed, the UN agency said in a report on Monday.
Yemen has been mired in violence since the Saudi-led coalition waged a war against the Houthi group in 2015 aimed at restoring the Arab country’s resigned president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
The World Health Organization said last Monday the virus was circulating undetected in Yemen, increasing the likelihood of a devastating outbreak among a malnourished population that would overwhelm a shattered health system with limited testing capacity.
There are currently 15.9 million Yemenis classified as food insecure out of a population of some 28 million.
The FAO does not currently have an estimate as to how much bigger that number could get if the disease continues to spread but it continues to monitor the situation.