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UN Declares Highest-level Humanitarian Emergency for Yemen

FILE - Women and children wait to fill buckets with water from a public tap amid an acute shortage of water, in Sana'a, Yemen, May 9, 2015.

The United Nations has declared its highest-level humanitarian emergency for Yemen, where it says an ongoing conflict has put more than 80 percent of the country’s population in desperate need of aid.

U.N. officials Wednesday said 13 million Yemenis barely have enough food and more than nine million have little or no access to clean water.

Declaring a level-3 emergency for Yemen, humanitarian workers will try to reach nearly 12 million people who are determined to be most in need.

The misery of Yemeni civilians was compounded Wednesday when missiles fired by Shi'ite Houthi rebels killed at least 31 people and wounded 100 in the southern city of Aden.

Houthi rebels seized the capital, Sana'a, last year, forcing President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis are leading an Arab coalition in a campaign of airstrikes aimed at restoring the Hadi government.

But U.N. officials say the airstrikes, along with the fighting on the ground as the Houthis try to solidify their authority, have killed more than 1,400 civilians since March.