Fighting in Yemen has prevented the distribution of enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month, according to the UN's emergency relief coordinator, noting that this comes as almost 10 million people elsewhere in the country remain "just a step away from famine".

In a statement this week, Mark Lowcock said fighting meant stores located at the Red Sea Mills on the outskirts of the port city of Hodeida had been unable to be accessed since September last year. He noted that the World Food Programme alone had 51,000 metric tons of wheat stored there, a quarter of its in-country stock and enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month.

“Enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month has sat unused and possibly spoiling in silos at the mills for more than four months," he said. “No-one gains anything from this, but millions of starving people suffer”.

He described that situation, which comes with a growing risk of grain spoilage, and a mortar attack which caused the partial destruction of two silos in a government-controlled area last month as events "to be deplored".

While he appreciated that "genuine efforts" were being made to find a solution to end the ongoing conflict, such as solution was "elusive".

The UN and humanitarian partner agencies are scaling up their relief efforts and reach some 12 million people with emergency food assistance in the coming year - a 50 per cent increase on what took place in 2018. In December, the WFP reached some 10 million people.