An independent group of world figures is urging Saudi Arabia and its partners fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen to lift their blockade of the nation to avert a humanitarian disaster.

The Elders, a group working for international peace and chaired by ex-United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, said the blockade was aggravating an already dire human situation in Yemen.

Its statement echoed concerns by the UN and aid groups that the blockade could bring millions of people closer to “starvation and death.”

The coalition tightened its blockade on Yemen after the rebels fired a missile last weekend that was intercepted near the Saudi capital, Riyadh. The Saudis blamed the strike on Iran.