An unnatural disaster Yemen’s hunger crisis is born of deliberate policies, pursued primarily by a Saudi-led coalition backed by the United States

A currency crash

In their new analysis, the aid agencies found that more than 20 million Yemenis are “food insecure,” or unable to adequately feed themselves. Of those, 65,000 are in a “catastrophic” state. That figure is expected to nearly quadruple in upcoming months, and those people “will die if we can’t reach them with assistance,” said Lise Grande, the U.N.’s top humanitarian official in Yemen.

Already, as many as 85,000 children under 5 may have died of hunger since the start of the war, the aid agency Save the Children said last month. In the worst-hit areas, concentrated in rebel-held territory in northern Yemen where coalition restrictions are most stringent, thousands more children are dying of malnutrition-related illnesses.

A raft of economic policies has conspired to raise food prices by an average of 137 percent since the start of the conflict, according to the World Food Program, bringing Yemen to the brink of famine.

In an effort to strangle the rebels, known as Houthis, the Saudi-led coalition backing the Yemeni government has imposed import restrictions, including on food, medicine and fuel. The resulting spike in fuel prices has led to higher transport costs, which in turn has also driven up food prices.

The coalition, in the meantime, tightly controls the movement of goods and people by air, sea and land into northern Yemen, where 80 percent of the population lives. Those controls have further disrupted supplies and boosted the prices of food, fuel and other goods even more.

The shooting from the war also has played a devastating part. One-third of the 18,000 airstrikes carried out by the coalition have targeted nonmilitary sites, including factories, farms, markets, power plants and food warehouses, according to the Yemen Data Project. Those attacks have shattered domestic food production and distribution and have erased livelihoods, leaving Yemenis with less to spend.

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