United Nations officials are calling on the international community to send aid to the thousands of people dying of starvation in Yemen.

The intergovernmental organization said that nearly 50,000 Yemenis have already starved to death while 16 million more are expected to go hungry this year.

The secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland, said that Yemen is expected to experience a massive famine not seen since Ethiopia in the 1980s.

The United Nations reportedly held an emergency meeting on Monday to raise funds for humanitarian aid missions to the Western Asian nation. The organization reportedly did not hit its target of $3.85 billion as most countries were forced to cut back on donations because of the pandemic.

Egeland said that he was "deeply disappointed" by the lack of pledges from member countries. The head of the International Rescue Committee said that the lack of pledges was nothing short of a "failure of humanity." The United Nations reportedly fell $2 billion short of its $3.85 billion target.

More than 100 governments took part in Monday's conference. Top donors include the U.S. with $191 million, Saudi Arabia with $430 million, and Germany with $241 million.

"Millions of Yemeni children, women and men desperately need aid to live. Cutting aid is a death sentence," United Nations secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, said in a statement.

The prolonged war in Yemen is expected to result in a possible major famine that could kill millions of people.  The war started in the country when the Iran-backed Houthi militant group ousted Yemen's internationally recognized government. Saudi Arabia intervened and began a brutal campaign in support of the ousted government.

What was to be a weeks-long campaign had dragged on for six years, significantly impacting the lives of the local populace. The prolonged war has already resulted in the deaths of more than 233,000 people and more are likely to die as the flow of food and medicine continues to be disrupted.

According to the United Nations, about two-thirds of Yemenis rely on foreign assistance for their daily needs.  Officials on the ground said that international aid groups often have to pass through more than nine checkpoints to access the disaster zones.