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Yemen faces world's biggest famine: Top UN official

New York, Nov 9 (IANS) Yemen faces the world’s largest famine in decades “with millions of victims” if aid deliveries are not resumed, a senior UN official has warned.

Mark Lowcock, the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, on Wednesday urged the Saudi-led coalition to lift its blockade of the conflict-torn country, the BBC reported.

On Monday, the coalition shut air, land and sea routes into Yemen after Houthi rebels fired a missile at Riyadh. Saudi Arabia said the blockade was needed to stop Iran sending weapons to the rebels.

Iran denies arming the rebels, who have fought the Saudi-led coalition since 2015.

Lowcock, after briefing the UN Security Council on the issue behind closed doors, said: “I have told the council that unless those measures are lifted… there will be a famine in Yemen. It will be the largest famine the world has seen for many decades with millions of victims.”

Earlier this week, the UN and the Red Cross warned that a “catastrophic” situation threatened millions of Yemenis who relied on life-saving aid deliveries.

The Red Cross said its shipment of chlorine tablets, vital to combating a cholera epidemic which has affected more than 900,000 people, had been blocked.

The UN said seven million Yemenis are on the brink of famine.

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