Some people in Yemen have to go without food for days at a time as the humanitarian crisis in the country deteriorates, with one in five children acutely malnourished, rights groups said on Wednesday.
The British charity Oxfam and Islamic Relief said the food crisis has hit hard in the southern province of Abyan, where government forces have for months been battling Al-Qaeda-linked fighters, who control a number of key urban centres.
But the crisis has not only affected those displaced by conflict, the rights groups said, noting that "surging food and fuel prices" have also "pushed poor Yemenis across the country to the brink."
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"Millions of Yemenis are at breaking point and do not know where their next meal is coming from," Kelly Gilbride, policy officer from Oxfam, said in a statement.
The groups urged foreign donors to act quickly to prevent a situation similar to the drought-fuelled famine declared in parts of Somalia earlier this year, which showed "the tragic human cost of responding too late to urgent humanitarian need."
Yemen has been rocked by months of anti-government protests that destabilised the government of veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has agreed to step down in February after 33 years in power.
The Oxfam statement, which comes days after a transitional unity government was sworn in, notes that the humanitarian situation in Yemen is expected to worsen in 2012.