Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Efforts to avert mass starvation in war-ravaged Yemen will be doubled, the United Nations' World Food program announced on Friday.
About 8 million people in Yemen are in an "emergency situation," a category recognized as a step below famine, the WFP said Friday. It added that an upcoming assessment, later in November, is expected to show that as many as 14 million people will be in an emergency classification. It indicates that half of Yemen's population is a step away from starvation, the WFP's Francis Mwanza Head said.
In October the WFP warned that Yemen could face "the worst famine in 100 years."
Yemen has endured a four-year civil war between Saudi-backed government forces and Houthi rebels allied with Iran.
The port of Hodeidah, on the Red Sea, is a major battleground, with intensified fighting in the streets this week. Seventy percent of food imports and humanitarian relief arrive in Yemen through Hodeidah, which is held by Houthi forces. Roads leading from the city are blocked, and bombardments prevent medical staff from entering some areas, Euronews reported on Friday.
Malnourished children fill hospitals, the WFP said in a statement, and food prices have increased dramatically.
Over 1.2 million Yemeni public servants have not received a paycheck in two years. The humanitarian agency called for easier access through Hodeidah, and stabilization of prices in the country through unified emergency measures of Yemen's central bank and international financial organizations such as the International Monetary Fund.