The UN has said food aid is being diverted by corrupt and uncooperative officials in Al Houthi-held areas of Yemen, as millions continue to be on the brink of famine. David Beasley, head of the World Food Programme (WFP), told the BBC the agency’s efforts to reach people in need were being repeatedly blocked. On Monday, the WFP warned of a possible suspension of aid delivery.

Almost 12 million people – 40 per cent of Yemen’s population – are at risk of starvation, according to Beasley. He added that his unusual public criticism could backfire, with Al Houthi leaders providing even less access to humanitarian workers, but that children were dying as a result of this “desperate, desperate situation”.

“This violates the most fundamental international standards of humanitarian principles because innocent people are suffering from food diversion, theft, corruption,” said Beasley.

On Monday, the WEP said its teams were being denied access to people in need, convoys had been blocked and local officials were interfering with food distribution, warning of a phased suspension of aid.

In a separate interview with CNN’s Connect the World programme, Beasley noted: “We now are receiving about $150 million per month to feed 10 million to 12 million people out of the 30 million. You have 10 million to 12 million people literally on the brink of starvation that will die without our aid. We’re talking about a lot of money. This is why we need the protocols and the monitoring system in place to make certain that war isn’t prolonged because of those are diverting the aid. We’re talking, calculating anywhere 5 per cent to 10 per cent but we don’t know for certain because we don’t have the monitoring system in place ... We’re not asking Al Houthis to do anything we don’t ask any other place of conflict in the world.”