Fighters in the Yemen war and their international backers are wilfully pushing the country to the brink of famine, Oxfam warned today, on the two year anniversary of the escalation of the war (26 March).

Nearly 7 million people have been pushed to the brink of starvation and 70 per cent of the population is in need of humanitarian aid, in what was already the Middle East’s poorest country.

Oxfam is calling for urgent action on two fronts: an immediate resumption of the peace process and for governments and other donors to provide the additional US$2.1 billion the UN says is needed for the humanitarian response.

The appeal is only 7 per cent funded and so far the Australian Government has provided no direct funding to the humanitarian response since the conflict flared up two years ago.

Sajjad Mohamed Sajid, Oxfam’s Country Director in Yemen, said: “If the parties to the conflict – and those fuelling it with arm sales – continue to ignore Yemen’s food crisis, they will be responsible for a famine.

“The people of Yemen are being starved to death and may not survive the situation much longer. A fully funded humanitarian response is vital to prevent countless people dying needlessly, but ultimately what Yemenis need is an end to the fighting.

“All sides to the conflict must understand that famine is the real enemy of Yemen. Preventing it must take priority over any side’s military aims. The world cannot wait for famine to be declared in Yemen – it will be too late.”

Airstrikes and fighting have killed more than 7,600 people, including over 4,600 civilians, forced more than 3 million people from their homes and left 18.8 million people – 70 per cent of the population – in need of humanitarian assistance, the greatest number in any country in the world.