The United Nations says the war in Yemen has pushed the country to the brink of famine, with both commercial food imports and aid deliveries held up by the fighting and millions of hungry women and children facing possible starvation.

Ertharin Cousin, head of the U.N.'s World Food Programme, says that while some deliveries are being made, fighting around the major ports is stalling distribution, and reaching the country's interior is proving difficult.

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

The Saudis are leading a U.S.-backed Arab coalition carrying out airstrikes against Houthi forces.