The UN has launched an emergency appeal for $2.1 billion (£1.7 billion) to provide food and life-saving aid for Yemeni civilians caught up in the chaos of the country’s two-year-long civil war.
Around 12 million people are facing famine, with 3.3 million - including 2.1 million children - already acutely malnourished.
Approximately 55 per cent of the country’s medical infrastructure is out of action, and the economy and vital civil institutions have been devastated, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said on Wednesday at a briefing in Geneva.
"Many of the people never make it to the feeding centres or the hospitals because they can't afford the transport," he said.
"Many people die silent and unrecorded deaths, they die at home, they are buried before they are ever recorded."
More than 10,000 people have died as a result of the conflict so far, including an estimated 63,000 children who died of preventable causes linked to malnutrition, Unicef said last week.
"If there is no immediate action, and despite the ongoing humanitarian efforts, famine is now a real possibility for 2017. Malnutrition is rife and rising at an alarming rate," UN emergency relief coordinator Stephen O'Brien said.
In all, nearly 19 million Yemenis - more than two thirds of the population - need assistance and protection, the United Nations said.
Yemen has been plagued by unrest since the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, with the country descending into full-scale civil war in March 2015.
The situation in Yemen
The situation in Yemen
Houthi supporters trample on a US flag during a gathering mobilizing more fighters into several Yemeni battlefronts, in Sana'a, Yemen
People carry the coffins of men, who were killed in the recent Saudi-led airstrikes during their funeral, in the Old City of Sanaa, Yemen
Pro-government fighters give food to Yemeni children on the road leading to the southwestern port city of Mokha. Yemeni rebels are putting up fierce resistance in a key Red Sea port city where they are encircled by pro-government force
A Yemeni stands in front of a graffiti protesting US military operations in war-affected Yemen, in Sana'a, Yemen. According to reports, US Special Forces troops allegedly disembarked from US helicopters in the Yemeni town of Yakla and attacked several houses belonging to members of the terrorist group Al-Qaeda, killing three high-ranking Al-Qaeda members and nine civilians, six women and three children. One American serviceman has been killed and three injured in the attack
US Special Forces troops allegedly disembarked from US helicopters in the Yemeni town of Yakla and attacked several houses belonging to members of the terrorist group Al-Qaeda, killing three high-ranking Al-Qaeda members and nine civilians, six women and three children. One American serviceman has been killed and three injured in the attack
A Yemeni female fighter supporting the Shiite Huthi rebels, and carrying weapons used for ceremonial purposes, takes part in an anti-Saudi rally in the capital Sanaa
Yemeni female fighters supporting the Shiite Huthi rebels, and carrying weapons used for ceremonial purposes, take part in an anti-Saudi rally in the capital Sanaa
A boy shouts slogans next to pro-Houthi fighters, who have been injured during recent fighting, during a rally held to honour those injured or maimed while fighting in Houthi ranks in Sanaa, Yemen
Balls of fire and smoke rise from a Houthi-held military camp following alleged Saudi-led airstrikes, in Sana'a, Yemen
Yemenis search under the rubble of damaged houses following reported Saudi-led coalition air strikes on the outskirts of the Yemeni capital Sanaa
A Yemeni boy looks on as Yemenis search under the rubble of damaged houses following reported Saudi-led coalition air strikes on the outskirts of the Yemeni capital Sanaa
A Yemeni boy sits amidst the rubble of damaged houses following reported Saudi-led coalition air strikes on the outskirts of the Yemeni capital Sanaa
Marine One with US President Donald Trump flies with a decoy and support helicopters to Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, for the dignified transfer of Navy Seal Chief Petty Officer William 'Ryan' Owens who was killed in Yemen
US President Donald Trump aboard the Marine One to greet the remains of a US military commando killed during a raid on the al Qaeda militant group in southern Yemen on Sunday, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, US
The conflict has pitted Shia Houthi rebels, who currently control much of the country, against the internationally recognised exiled government.
Extremist groups such as al-Qaeda have taken advantage of Yemen’s chaos, establishing strongholds across the country.
A Saudi Arabia-led coalition of Arab countries has intervened on behalf of Yemen’s exiled government since March 2015 against the Iran-allied Houthi movement in what Riyadh says is aimed at curbing creeping Iranian influence in the region.
The campaign has been widely criticised for hitting civilian infrastructure, including the bombing of a Sana’a funeral that killed 140 people in October last year. Roads, ports, bridges, markets and bridges across the country have also been hit.
Several Western governments – including the UK – have been rebuked for selling arms to Saudi Arabia, which rights groups say are destined for use in the conflict.
The Saudi-led coalition also imposes an air and naval blockade on the country, imposing strict restrictions on what can and can’t be bought in, and causing aid delivery delays, the UN says.
"In Yemen, if bombs don't kill you, a slow and painful death by starvation is now an increasing threat," Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said in a statement as the UN plan was launched.
Reuters contributed to this reportReuse content