FILE- a severely malnourished boy rests on a hospital bed at the Aslam Health Center, Hajjah, Yemen.
FILE- a severely malnourished boy rests on a hospital bed at the Aslam Health Center, Hajjah, Yemen.

Up to 20 million Yemeni's two-thirds of the country's population are food insecure, primarily because of the war that has ravaged the impoverished country.

A joint statement issued Saturday by the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization, UNICEF and the World Food Program said the conflict has contributed to the "world's worst humanitarian crisis."

The agencies cited an analysis by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, a food security survey that helps determine whether to declare famine in countries.

"Already 15.9 million people wake up hungry" in Yemen, the agencies said of the findings, which also said 20 million people are facing "severe acute food insecurity."

FILE - An 8-year-old malnourished boy lies on a bed in the emergency ward of a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen, Sept. 27, 2016.
WFP: More Funding, Access to Needy Are Critical in Yemen
The United Nations says the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is the worst in the world. As the country's warring parties hold U.N.-mediated talks in Stockholm, the World Food Program (WFP) in Rome is calling for immediate access because millions of people need food.  More than 20 million people in a country with a population of over 29 million are expected to need humanitarian assistance next year.

WFP head David Beasley said "a massive increase in aid and sustained access to all areas of Yemen" are needed to help alleviate the crisis. He warned if those actions are not taken, "we will lose an entire generation of children to hunger."

While the report cited war as the main cause of the crisis, it said the crisis also was exacerbated by skyrocketing food prices and high unemployment levels.

The crisis spiraled out of control after a Saudi-led coalition launched an offensive in March 2015 to support the Yemeni government against Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.

FILE - A severely malnourished infant is bathed in a bucket in Aslam, Hajjah, Yemen, Aug. 25, 2018.
WFP: 1 Million Yemeni Children at Risk of Death by Starvation
While visiting Yemen two weeks ago, World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley met scores of skeletal children in an overcrowded hospital in the capital, Sana'a. He said the children he saw had a chance of survival. He also said he worried about the children he did not see, noting they had been sent home to die for lack of space to treat them.  Beasley said one child dies every 10 or 11 minutes in Yemen because of the humanitarian consequences of this brutal war.

The catastrophe has claimed the lives of at least 10,000 people, the World Health Organization estimates.

The war also has taken a heavy toll on the country's economy, with the World Bank reporting it has contracted by about 50 percent since 2015.

The report was disclosed as Yemeni government officials and rebel representatives held U.N.-brokered peace talks in Sweden.

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