The United Nations warned that the coronavirus and broader humanitarian response remain hugely underfunded in Yemen, risking an increase in the spread of the pandemic in the war-torn country.

“Aid agencies have for months been operating on the basis that there is full-blown community transmission of COVID-19 in Yemen and they continued to focus efforts on suppressing transmission of the virus,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said in a statement.

It said aid agencies have distributed thousands of metric tons of supplies and equipment, supporting COVID-19 clinical readiness, and safeguarding the public health system in the country.

UNOCHA warned that the fuel crisis that hit Yemen in June was threatening access to food, hospital operations, and water supplies which are fuel-dependent and crucial to preventing virus transmission to the response.

“In addition, COVID-19 is contributing to an economic downturn in Yemen, risking families’ ability to meet their basic needs, and increasing humanitarian needs and vulnerability to the virus,” it said.

According to the statement, 80% of remittances, worth $3.8 billion in 2019, have dried up, along with a hike in the cost of the minimum food basket by as much as 35% in some areas.

“Both the COVID-19 and broader humanitarian response remain hugely underfunded, risking an increase in the spread of COVID-19 and jeopardizing the ability of humanitarian partners to respond.”

Yemeni authorities have so far recorded 1,516 coronavirus infections, including 429 deaths, and 685 recoveries.

Yemen has been wracked by violence and instability since 2014, when Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

A Saudi-led coalition aimed at reinstating the Yemeni government has worsened the situation, causing one of the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crisis as millions are on the brink of starvation.

* Bassel Barakat contributed to this report from Ankara

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