The head of the international Red Cross says "Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years."

Peter Maurer, fresh off a trip to Yemen, said entrenched poverty, months of intensified warfare and limits on imports because of an international embargo have contributed to "catastrophic" conditions. The conflict has left more than 1,900 people dead since March.

In an interview, Maurer contrasted Yemen's war with others in the Middle East "where infrastructures are better off, and people are wealthier and have reserves and can escape."

The conflict pits Shiite rebels known as Houthis and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against southern separatists, militias, Sunni militants and troops loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is in exile in Saudi Arabia.