Sana’a: The United Nations on Thursday urged the international community, especially Gulf states, to increase aid to impoverished Yemen, saying that more than 10 million people in the country go hungry.

A Sanaa news conference by UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos and World Food Programme executive director Ertharin Cousin heard that “the humanitarian situation in Yemen remains critical”, despite “positive” political developments.

“People need food, water, education and healthcare. But they also want to know that there is investment to secure their future. We urgently need more funding to help those in need,” Amos said.

The UN estimates that more than 10 million people — nearly half of the population — goes hungry or are short of food “with very high rates of food insecurity”.

According to the UN, child malnutrition rates are among the highest in the world with close to half of Yemen’s children under five years — around two million children — stunted.

Ertharin said the “WFP is providing life-saving food assistance to almost five million Yemenis to break the inter-generational cycle of hunger.”

“We count on the support of our donors,” she added.

During a four-day visit, Ertharin and Amos also met President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and other officials including donor representatives to discuss the challenges faced by the Arabian Peninsula nation.

They also visited a camp for the displaced and a centre where stranded migrants from the Horn of Africa receive International Organisation for Migration assistance.

In January, UN agencies estimated that Yemen, one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, needed humanitarian aid worth $716 million (Dh2.6b) this year, a 22 per cent rise from 2012.

Last year $329 million (Dh1.2b) was made available of an estimated amount needed of $585 million (Dh2.1b).

A “Friends of Yemen” meeting is scheduled to take place in New York on September 25.

Yemen is the only Arab Spring nation in which a popular movement of dissent led to a negotiated settlement for regime change, with Hadi being elected president in February 2012 for an interim two-year period.

A national dialogue, part of a Gulf and UN-brokered power transfer deal, is currently under way aimed at drafting a new constitution and preparing for February 2014 elections.