The U.N. humanitarian chief says 20 million people in Yemen are hungry — a 15 percent increase from last year. And he says that for the first time, 250,000 face “catastrophe,” which means starvation, death and destitution.

Mark Lowcock recently returned from Yemen and told reporters Monday that there has been “a significant, dramatic deterioration” of the situation in Yemen.

There are five levels on the global scale for classifying the severity and magnitude of food insecurity and malnutrition. Lowcock says last year there were no Yemenis in the most severe Phase 5, facing “catastrophe,” but now there are 250,000.

He says nearly 5 million people are in Phase 4 — the “emergency” level. They include people in 152 of Yemen’s 333 districts, a sharp increase from last year.

Source: The Associated Press

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