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Yemen reports five more coronavirus cases

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Aden (AFP)

Yemen's internationally recognised government on Wednesday reported five new coronavirus cases amid warnings by health and aid organisations the pandemic could have dire consequences in the war-ravaged country.

The United Nations has declared Yemen, where war a conflict erupted in 2014, as "the world's worst humanitarian crisis" with millions suffering malnutrition and a crumpling healthcare system.

So far, Yemen has been largely spared from the spread of coronavirus, reporting only a single case in early April in the southern government-controlled province of Hadramawt.

But five new cases were reported in the southern city of Aden, the interim capital of the internationally-recognised government, the committee monitoring the outbreak said in a Twitter post.

The war between Iran-backed Huthi rebels and pro-government troops escalated in March 2015, when a Saudi-led military coalition intervened against the rebels who control swathes of Yemen including the capital Sanaa.

Over the past six years, tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the conflict, according to relief agencies.

More than 24 million Yemenis, or more than two thirds of the population, need aid, according to the United Nations.

Millions of Yemenis have been also displaced within the country, which has also seen a cholera outbreak.

The UN said Tuesday that nearly one million of those displaced risk losing their shelter, and warned of a dire funding shortfall as the COVID-19 pandemic looms.

"Yemen is already considered to be the world's largest humanitarian crisis," UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo told a virtual news briefing in Geneva.

"The country is now also facing the overlapping threat of the coronavirus pandemic, and the impact of recent torrential rain and flooding."

Also on Tuesday, the World Health Organization warned of the impact coronavirus could have in Middle Eastern conflict zones, including Yemen and Syria.

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