UNICEF: 2.4 Million Children in Yemen Face Starvation

  • “We cannot overstate the scale of this emergency as children, in what is already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, a battle for survival as COVID-19 takes hold.”
  • The Yemeni health system is on the verge of collapse, and aid has been what helped it to continue.
  • "UNICEF previously said and reiterates that Yemen is the worst place in the world for children, and the situation is not improving."

In a report, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, warned that the severe shortage of humanitarian aid in Yemen, due to the COVID-19 virus, threatens additional numbers of children with malnutrition in the war-torn country. UNICEF said today that the number of children suffering from malnutrition in Yemen may rise to 2.4 million by the end of the year.

The United Nations Children’s Fund is a United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children around the world. UNICEF’s programs emphasize developing community-level services to promote the health and well-being of children.

A UNICEF report warned of a 20 percent increase in the number of malnourished children under the age of five, nearly half of the number of children of this age. “We cannot overstate the scale of this emergency as children, in what is already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, a battle for survival as COVID-19 takes hold,” said Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UNICEF Representative to Yemen.

“If we do not receive urgent funding, children will be pushed to the brink of starvation and many will die. The international community will be sending a message that the lives of children in a nation devastated by conflict, disease, and economic collapse, simply do not matter.”

The United Nations said it does not have sufficient funding to maintain the flow of aid, the largest in the world. A donors’ conference this month has collected half of what is needed, and aid programs that affect millions will be closed in the coming weeks.

UNICEF is appealing for $461 million for its humanitarian response, which currently funds only 39 percent, and $53 million for its response to COVID-19, of which only 10 percent is funded. Sanitation, vaccination, and malnutrition programs face the risk of closure and declining numbers.

The Yemeni Civil War is an ongoing conflict that began in 2015 between two factions: the Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi-led Yemeni government and the Houthi armed movement, along with their supporters and allies. Both claim to constitute the official government of Yemen.

“UNICEF is working around the clock in incredibly difficult situations to get aid to children in desperate need, but we only have a fraction of the funding required to do this,” said Nyanti. “Children in Yemen need lasting peace and stability in their country. Until that is achieved, we must do everything we can to save lives and protect childhoods.”

The Yemeni health system is on the verge of collapse, and aid has been what helped it to continue. Cholera, malaria, and dengue fever spread among the undernourished population even before the outbreak of the Coronavirus.

UNICEF said that about 7.8 million children are now out of school, which puts them at risk of child labor and recruitment into armed groups and child marriage. “UNICEF previously said and reiterates that Yemen is the worst place in the world for children, and the situation is not improving,” Nyanti said.

Coronavirus cases reported by the Yemeni authorities exceeded 1,000 on Wednesday, but the United Nations says the virus is spreading in a country with devastating health systems and infections are likely to be much higher. The epidemic started an outbreak in Yemen in early May, causing the death of 275 people, but the number of victims may be much higher due to the inability of health institutions to determine the causes of death in many cases.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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