GENEVA, March 10: The head of the UN food agency warned after a visit to Yemen that his underfunded organisation may be forced seek hundreds of millions of dollars in private donations in a desperate bid to stave off widespread famine in coming months, describing conditions in the war-stricken nation as “hell.”

The World Food Program needs at least USD 815 million in Yemen aid over the next six months, but has only USD 300 million, the agency’s executive director, David Beasley, told The Associated Press in an interview. He said the agency would need another USD 1.9 billion to meet targets for the year.

Beasley visited Yemen earlier this week, including the capital of Sanaa which is under the control of Houthi rebels. He said that at a child malnutrition ward in a Sanaa hospital he saw children wasting away from lack of food.

Many, he said, were on the brink of death from entirely preventable and treatable causes, and they were the lucky ones who were receiving medical care.

He said the world needs to wake up to how bad things have gotten in Yemen, particularly for the country’s youngest, some of whom he had seen on hospital beds in the Sanaa hospital.

“In a children’s wing or ward of a hospital, you know you normally hear crying, and laughter. There’s no crying, there’s no laughter, there’s dead silence,” he said late on Tuesday, speaking to the AP by video conference from Addis Ababa, where he had just landed from Yemen.

“I went from room to room, and literally, children that in any other place in the world would be fine, they’d might get a little sick but they’d get recovered, but not here.

“This is hell,” he said. “It’s the worst place on Earth. And it’s entirely man-made.” – AP