United Nations warns of humanitarian crisis in Yemen

By Imogen Foulkes
BBC News, Geneva

image captionThe UN says it may stop nutritional aid to 50,000 malnourished children

Yemen is facing a major humanitarian crisis if donor countries do not meet the needs of the aid agencies working there, the United Nations has warned.

The UN said it has so far received just a quarter of the nearly $180m (£124m) it needs for its operations in Yemen.

It says this has led to cuts in food rations to thousands of the displaced.

Officials warn that unless international funding improves, worsening food shortages could endanger the fragile security situation.

The UN has asked for $177m for Yemen this year - so far it has received just $49m.

That money is intended to provide food, water, shelter and medical care for more than 300,000 people displaced by Yemen's ongoing civil conflict.

But the cash shortfall means food rations were cut in half at the start of May, and by August, the UN says it will have to stop nutritional support to 50,000 malnourished children under the age of five.

UN spokeswoman Elizabeth Byrs says the lack of money is part of a worrying trend.

"The impact of the financial crisis is one explanation," she said.

"Donor countries seem to be quite slow... The total amount of the humanitarian appeals are $10bn and so far we have got $3.7bn."

Aid operations are rarely fully funded immediately - nevertheless by this point in the year the UN normally hopes to have at least 50% of the money it needs.

Instead it has around 33%, and senior aid officials fear little commitment from donor countries to provide more.

As governments in wealthy nations announce austerity packages, their own populations are preparing for wage freezes.

In poorer countries and conflict zones, people may have to prepare to go hungry.

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