14 million 'on brink of famine' in Yemen - charities

Thirty-five Yemeni and international NGOs called on Wednesday for an "immediate cessation of hostilities" in Yemen, where they warned 14 million people were now "on the brink of famine".

The joint appeal was signed by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Action Against Hunger, CARE International, Oxfam, Doctors of the World, and Yemeni organisations, according to a statement.

"With 14 million men, women and children on the brink of famine – half the country's population – there has never been a more urgent time to act," the statement said.

It called on governments to "secure an immediate cessation of hostilities" and "suspend the supply of arms at risk of being used in Yemen".

The most impoverished country in the Arab world, Yemen has been gripped by war since 2015, when a regional military coalition led by Saudi Arabia joined the government's fight against Huthi rebels.

"The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is manmade and a direct consequence of the warring parties' severe restrictions on access to food, fuel, medical imports and humanitarian aid," the statement added.

"The collapse of the Yemeni rial and the non-payment of public sector workers is adding to the catastrophe.

"We call on governments to redouble their efforts to guarantee unimpeded access to essential items... including through the lifeline port of Hodeidah, where civilians have been caught in renewed fighting over the past few days."

Pro-government forces pressed even closer on Wednesday to the heart of Hodeida, the Red Sea city controlled by Huthi rebels and under blockade by Saudi Arabia and its allies.

International aid groups have appealed to both the rebels and the alliance to allow civilians to escape the densely-populated city of 600 000 people.

Nearly 10 000 Yemenis have been killed in the conflict since 2015, according to the World Health Organisation.

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