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Over 170,000 have fled conflict in Yemen, UN says

A Djibouti security official addresses people who fled Yemen, arriving aboard a dhow at the port of Djibouti, April 14, 2015. (AFP photo)

The United Nations says over the past few months 170,000 people have fled the conflict in Yemen for the Horn of Africa and the Persian Gulf countries.

The UN Refugee Agency, also known as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced the figure in a statement released on Wednesday after aid meetings in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

"Around 170,000 Yemenis, refugees and third country nationals have fled to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and some [Persian] Gulf countries," the statement said.

The UN agency said it is in need of more than USD 94 million (86 million euros) in order to support those escaping the conflict in 2016.

Since late March, Yemen has been suffering a brutal military campaign by Saudi Arabia. The attacks, which lack a UN mandate, have killed more than 7,500 people and displaced millions, according to Yemeni sources.

The Saudi military aggression has also inflicted huge damage on Yemen’s civilian infrastructure, disrupting the delivery of relief aid by international agencies to Yemeni people.

According to the UN, an estimated 80 percent of people inside Yemen need aid, including 2.3 million who have been forced from their homes.

"The suffering that this conflict is inflicting on people is heart-breaking," said Claire Bourgeois, who heads the UNHCR operations for those escaping Yemen.

Yemeni children receive free food donated by Yemeni volunteers in Sana’a on June 26, 2015. (AP photo)

On December 4, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) expressed concern over growing food insecurity in the war-torn country, saying famine jeopardizes the lives of about half of the Arab nation.

The 2016 Humanitarian Needs Overview said in a report on Yemen in November that 14.4 million people of the country’s 23 million are food insecure. It said 7.6 million of the figure include people in desperate need of food assistance.

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