LONDON - At least five merchant vessels carrying food are stuck off Yemen as warships from a Saudi-led coalition search them for weapons bound for Iran-allied Houthi rebel forces, with delays adding to a humanitarian crisis.
Yemen imports more than 90 percent of its food, including most of its wheat and all its rice, to feed a population of 25 million.
Much of its needs had been serviced by foreign ships, although shipping lines have now reduced or stopped port calls.
Ship tracking data showed at least five cargo ships were anchored off Yemen unable to enter Yemeni waters.
"Disruption of navigation in Yemen's territorial waters will adversely affect food security," UN humanitarian agency OCHA said. "Even before the current escalation in conflict, almost half of all people in Yemen were short of food."
Saudi Arabia and Arab allies have launched air strikes against Houthi rebels, who have taken most of the country and forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee to Riyadh.