The Yemen conflict has spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving almost 80 per cent of population in abject misery. Nearly half the population is now acutely food insecure, with 2 million facing crisis levels of hunger, according to Brookings Institution. This broader tragedy, of necessity, hit the country’s children the hardest. This is evidenced in a latest UN report which says that more than two million Yemeni children under five are expected to endure acute malnutrition in 2021.
The report launched on Friday by four UN agencies urges stakeholders to end the years-long conflict that has brought the Arab world’s poorest country to the brink of famine. It warns that nearly one in six of those kids — 400,000 of the 2.3 million — are at risk of death due to severe acute malnutrition this year, a significant increase from last year’s estimates. Compounding the crisis, around 1.2 million pregnant or breastfeeding women in Yemen are also projected to be acutely malnourished this year. These numbers — according to the World Food Programme which has jointly issued the report along with the FAO, Unicef and WHO — are yet another cry for help from Yemen, where each malnourished child also means a family struggling to survive.
The crisis in Yemen is a toxic mix of conflict, economic collapse and a severe shortage of funding. Lack of funds, in particular, is hampering humanitarian programmes in the country, as donor nations have failed to make good on their commitments. In 2020, humanitarian programmes in Yemen received only $1.9 billion of the required $3.4 billion, says the UN report. According to Unicef estimates, virtually all of Yemen’s 12 million children require some sort of assistance. This can include food aid, health services, clean water, schooling and cash grants to help the poorest families scrape by. Considering the dire situation, international donors must step forward and put their money where the mouth is.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2021.
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