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Archdeacon warns war-torn Yemen 'couldn't be more serious', amid famine fears

Fr Bill Schwartz OBE has spoken amid a warning from the United Nation's World Food Programme the nation is on the brink of famine.

The Archbishop of the Gulf told the News Hour: "It couldn't be more serious, in my opinion. There is just nothing but widespread hunger and a lack of organisation to try to meet the need."

Described as the Middle East's forgotten war, it is believed the conflict has left nearly 7,000 people dead in what is widely considered the poorest Arab nation.

While instability has gripped Yemen since unification in 1990, the current violence erupted in September 2014 when Houthi rebels from the north temporarily took control of the capital, Sanaa.

AP Photos/Hani Mohammed

A coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been engaged in a campaign of airstrikes to support to country's government but it has been accused by SNP and Labour of committing war crimes.

Yemen has been in a state of crisis since a revolution prompted President Ali Abdullah Saleh to hand over power to former-vice president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Al-Qaeda also has a presence in Yemen.

Urging Christians to pray for peace in Yemen, Fr Bill added: "Until this fighting erupted, there was a level or normality; children did go to school, food was available."

"Since the fighting has started, all of those basic infrastructures have broken down, including water, electricity and telecommunications."

"That's all been destroyed, so daily life is almost unbearable for many people, millions of people."

The World Food Programme said $257 million is needed to give "vital" food assistance until March 2017 and it claims 14.1 million are currently considered food insecure.

WFP Country Director in Yemen Torben Due said: "We need to scale up our life-saving assistance to reach more people with timely food assistance and preventive treatment."

Click here to listen to Fr Bill speaking with Premier's Alex Williams:

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