“More and more children are going to bed hungry in Yemen,” says Catherine Russell, UNICEF's executive director.
Fighting in the Middle East's poorest country, war-torn Yemen, steps up between the Houthi rebels and the Western-backed Saudi coalition forces, who have been criticised for commonly targeting civilians, mostly children.
The warning comes a day after a UN appeal for countries to fund emergency aid in the Arab world’s poorest nation fell a billion dollars short of what agencies need to cover essential activities from June to December.
The war between Houthi rebels and pro-government forces escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition intervened against the rebels who control large parts of Yemen including the capital Sanaa.
Some 75 percent of UN programmes in Yemen have had to shut their doors or reduce operations, including cuts on food rations as well as health services in 189 out of 369 hospitals.
UN humanitarian chief and the heads of 10 UN agencies and several officials and humanitarian organisations issue a joint statement saying “Covid-19 is spreading rapidly across the country already experiencing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis”.
UNHCR said Yemen's health care system "has in effect collapsed", with the virus thought to be spreading throughout the country, and appealed for urgent funding last week.
The spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said aid workers reported having to turn people away because they do not have enough medical oxygen or sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment.
There are innumerable accounts from local sources and media as well as rights organisations that contradict the US claim.
The war-damaged nation, whose population has been weakened by widespread hunger and disease, has reported one laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 case but due to inadequate testing and a shattered health system aid groups fear a devastating outbreak.
Cracks between Saudi and the UAE appear on the battleground of Yemen as their ground allies are at loggerheads.
Split into rival power centres, its medical infrastructure shattered by war and seen by the United Nations as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, Yemen is handicapped by its own destitution in its fight against the new coronavirus.
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