Millions of children in the heart of the world’s worst humanitarian disaster could be pushed to the brink of starvation, due to huge shortfalls in humanitarian aid funding amid the coronavirus pandemic, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Friday.
The UNICEF report warned the number of malnourished children could reach 2.4 million by end of year, almost half of all under-fives.
An additional 30,000 children could develop life-threatening severe acute malnutrition over the next six months.
‘Yemen five years on: Children, conflict and COVID-19’ warns that as Yemen’s devastated health system and infrastructure overall struggles to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, the already dire situation for children is likely to deteriorate considerably.
UNICEF reported that an additional 6,600 children under five could die from preventable causes by the end of the year. With a health system teetering closer to collapse, only half of health facilities are operational, with huge shortages in medicine, equipment and staff.
More than eight million people, nearly half of them children, depend directly on the agency for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), amid ongoing conflict, cholera outbreaks and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We cannot overstate the scale of this emergency as children, in what is already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, battle for survival as COVID-19 takes hold”, said Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UNICEF Representative to Yemen.
“As the world’s attention focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic I fear the children of Yemen will be all but forgotten. Despite our own preoccupations right now, we all have a responsibility to act and help the children of Yemen. They have the same rights of any child, anywhere”, Ms. Nyanti added.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in order to bring former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement.
The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the past five years.
In the following video, an aid worker describes the plight of Yemeni children and the impacts of war on this vulnerable group.