Yemen: A country ripped apart and on its knees after two years of war

ITV News Correspondent Neil Connery has been to Yemen to see first hand the devastation wreaked by the country's civil war.

More than two and half years of war have left Yemen on its knees - its infrastructure ripped apart, creating the perfect breeding ground for disease and hunger.

The United Nations says Yemen is the world's largest humanitarian crisis.

For Ahmed every breath is an ordeal. He's suffering from diphtheria - the country's new killer.

His mother cradles the 18-month-old as best she can given his pain as he lies coughing and gasping for breath in hospital.

In the room next door, Hammah is also fighting the infectious disease. She was one of the first cases brought to Aden's Al-Sadaqa Hospital.

Yemen is already in the midst of the largest cholera outbreak in recorded history, and now it's having to confront diphtheria.

Nawara barely has the strength to cry. Severe acute malnutrition has left her clinging onto life as her mother Omhasim comforts her.

She's so hungry the two-year-old grinds her teeth.

Disease and hunger are killing more people here than bombs and bullets.

"Disease kills more than the war," says Dr Mohammed Mustafa Yassin.

"Cases of death due to disease which is a result of war are now more than the number of people who die in the battlefield.

"I'm worried because diptheria, which is an airborne infection, needs a special centre, special isolation, special training and needs special mechanical ventilator," he says, pointing out he has none of these.

Doctors have little equipment and supplies to work with.

Just two miles away, thousands of tonnes of grain flow into Aden's port.

Most of it is heading north where more than seven million people face famine. It's a long and difficult journey across frontlines.

Aid agencies are demanding all of Yemen's ports are opened immediately by the Saudi-led coalition who are fighting Houthi rebels in the north of the Arab world's poorest nation.

Fuel shortages are also crippling Yemen's economy. There are often empty forecourts and lengthy queues.

In the neo-natal ward fragile lives depend upon the electricity which power their incubators.

But these babies are powerless. Like all Yemenis their futures lie in the hands of this country's warring factions and their international backers.

Yemen is in the grip of a deadly civil war.

But in Aden even the dead aren't safe. British war graves in the former colony have been desecrated in the past few days.

Headstones lie smashed and scattered in the graveyard.

The bottom part of one remains intact with the inscription: "At the going down of the sun we will remember them."

This is the second time Islamists have targeted this sacred place. But security forces here can barely protect the living.

In this lawless place riven by factional infighting, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and so-called Islamic State have exploited the chaos and killed and injured hundreds.

This week IS claimed they carried out the assassination of a criminal investigation officer in the city. Video they posted taken from the gunman's point of view showed the killing of Lt. Col Hamoud Mohamed Al-Humaidi.

A fortnight ago at least 10 people were killed, including two civilians, when a car bomb exploded at a security post.

IS also claimed a major attack in Aden earlier this month which killed 35 people and sparked a hostage crisis.

A Saudi-led coalition is fighting the Houthi rebels.

There's no shortage of military hardware from wealthy nations backing the internationally-recognised government, but for ordinary Yemenis it's making little difference.

At the hospital run by Medicines Sans Frontiers they deal with victims of violence every day - many suffering from gunshot wounds and blast injuries.

The fighting has left this city scarred and in the grip of competing militias and foreign armies.

Posters of President Hadi can be seen in the city, but he remains absent in the Saudi capital Riyadh with no sign of imminent return, underlining the weakness of his position.

It is the Saudi-led coalition, and in particular the influence of the United Arab Emirates, which is shaping Aden now.

It's Aden’s misfortune that its strategic importance ensures it will always be a prize to be fought over.

A war which has torn Yemen in two has also bolstered demands for southern independence.

With stalemate on the battlefield, supporters believe their hand is strengthened. The separatist flag flies prominently throughout the city.

What happens here could determine Yemen's future.