The UK government is being condemned for reports it is about to cut aid to Yemen by millions of pounds.
Conservative MPs and aid agencies are reacting angrily to the news.
The expected move comes despite an urgent appeal from the United Nations for more funding for aid in Yemen to avert a looming famine – which would drastically worsen the already devastating impact of the civil war.
Laurie Lee, CEO of Care International UK, told Sky News: “If the government cuts aid to Yemen today, which is the worst humanitarian disaster in the world, it will take aid away from hundreds of thousands of people on the brink of famine.”
Foreign Office minister James Cleverly will lay out the details of the likely cuts later.
It follows the government’s decision to cut foreign aid across the board by billions of pounds – from 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5%.
Aid agencies say the news on Yemen underlines how drastic the impact of those cuts will be.
“If the government can’t even maintain the current level of aid for Yemen, the worst humanitarian disaster in the world, and on the brink of famine,” said Mr Lee, “then it just shows what devastation the aid cuts announced by the chancellor in November will do.”
The move threatens a backbench rebellion for the government.
Former Conservative chief whip Andrew Mitchell told Sky News: “Any cut, let alone one of nearly 50%, will mean that four million Yemenis – mainly children – will continue the slow, agonising and obscene process of starving to death.”
He also predicted the government would have the greatest difficulty pushing its wider foreign aid cut through parliament.
“We are a generous country and every single elected member of the House of Commons promised in their manifesto just over a year ago not to cut the 0.7% spending on development,” said Mr Mitchell.