Christian and Muslim charities urge prayer for Yemen, the world's 'worst humanitarian crisis'

Leaders of faith-based international development agencies have united to call on believers to pray for the desperate humanitarian situation in Yemen this week.

After nearly four years of war, more than 14 million people are facing starvation and 85,000 children may have already died from extreme hunger since 2015.

A boy walks past an armoured personnel carrier, damaged during recent clashes between pro-government forces and armed militants in Taiz, Yemen.Reuters

Now, the chief executives of Christian Aid, Islamic Relief, CAFOD, Tearfund and World Vision UK are rallying their faith communities to pray for an end to the crisis.

According to the aid agencies there some hope in Yemen with a ceasefire brokered last month which promises to restore the port of Hodeida and allow food and medicine into Yemen. However, Yemen's warring parties have failed to pull troops from the port, putting the first major diplomatic breakthrough of the four-year war in jeopardy and reviving the threat of an all-out assault that could unleash famine.

The resignation last week of the UN official monitoring the ceasefire, who quit days after his convoy was shot at, has hammered home the potential for the peace deal to collapse. If fighting restarts in earnest around the port of Hodeidah, the main supply route into the country could be cut off, leaving no way to feed millions of people on the verge of starvation.

Wheat has been unloaded at Hodeidah but cannot be distributed because of the security situation.Reuters

While the aid organisations welcomed the UK government's announcement last week that it will be increasing its funding to the UN peace process in Yemen by £2.5 million, they say the situation is so desperate that much more needs to be done.

They hope mosques and churches up and down the UK will take time on Friday and Sunday to pray for Yemen.

Faith groups have committed to taking part, including the St Anselm Community at Lambeth Palace who will be devoting their evening prayer tomorrow evening (Tuesday, 29 January) to pray for the people of Yemen.

Amanda Mukwashi, chief executive of Christian Aid, said: 'This is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today, and we cannot let it be forgotten. The people of Yemen are crying out for hope and we urge people of all faiths to join with us in praying for the hearts of international governments to be moved to further action, and for positive change to come to Yemen.'

Tim Pilkington, chief executive of World Vision UK, said: 'The conflict in Yemen is now approaching its fourth year. Every day, millions of children struggle to survive without food, clean water or medicine. Parents face the agony of seeing their children go hungry and die. They are desperate. They need hope. We urge people of faith to join with us and pray for these children to get the protection they need. We also pray that international leaders find the wisdom and courage to broker lasting peace and secure a brighter future for the people of Yemen.'

Nigel Harris, chief executive of Tearfund, said: 'We need to hear the people of Yemen's cries, and to act. We each have a choice on whether we support our neighbours, or stay silent. Join us in lifting up the people of Yemen, pray for those suffering daily, for families torn apart, for our partners on the ground bringing hope and relief. We have to believe that everything is possible with God.'

The aid agencies encouraged believers to pray for peace for the people of Yemen, wisdom for those involved in diplomacy and a resolve to bring about an end to the conflict and for the religious authorities in all of the nations involved to speak truth to power.