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Yemen: an entire generation at the brink of falling prey to acute malnutrition

Yemen, the country which was already fighting wars with multiple adversaries is now at the verge of yet another unprecedented plight; a peril risk of an entire generation falling prey to acute malnutrition. The five long years of civil war have devastated the middle-eastern country. Yemen, battling with civil war, economic collapse and global health emergency is undergoing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Yemen: The worst every recorded malnutrition rate

The latest data from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) revealed the widening problem of malnutrition in the country. In the worst-hit area, one out of every four children is racked with the pain of acute malnutrition.

The analysis was done in 133 districts of southern Yemen; in which resides more than 1.4 million children who are under 5-years old. The analysis was conducted by food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); the World Food Programme (WFP) and partners. With 567,573 children at present, the numbers of suffering children have hiked by 10% from this January.

Marixie Mercado, spokesperson of UNICEF said; “Acute malnutrition rates among children below five-years-old are the highest ever recorded in parts of southern Yemen”.

The problem with malnutrition is severe because children below five-years-old suffering from acute malnutrition; posses ten times more chances of dying from diseases like malaria, cholera, diarrhoea etc. This has made Yemen a “living hell” for children, causing them death from easily preventable disease.

About a decade of armed conflict has caused the country’s economy to collapse; crumbling healthcare system leaving thousands of people to starve to death.

How the global pandemic is affecting Yemen crisis?

A number of national and international organisations and institution around the world including the UN; provides Humanitarian aid in the country form providing food essential, water to emergency medical supplies in the war-torn areas of the country.

Almost all of these organisations run on funding but; the unprecedented COVID19 pandemic has impacted the global economy with almost every big economy having negative GDP; in the worst quarter of 2020. The long halt in economic activities has vastly affected the funding this year.

Civil war and ever-escalating tensions have caused millions of Yemenis to displace within and outside the country. The bulk of these is never able to find a job, again pushing them towards famine.

Amongst millions, one of these acutely malnourished children is Issa Nasser. His father Ibrahim Nasser was a fisherman who was forced to leave his village because of the escalated conflict between Yemen’s Houthi rebels and government; the conflict which cost more than 100,00 lives and forced 3 million people to get displaced and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

A huge portion, two-third of the population depends upon food assistance for survival; which is becoming more and more scarce because of the lack of funding.

Issa Nasser’s father says “I am a poor person, and my son is in this state and they tell me he is malnourished; I don’t have anything to give him”

The current condition

The current data shows that with 15.5%, Yemen has witnessed the greatest rise in Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM); leaving 98,000 children under five at the brink of death caused by lack of urgent treatment and SMA.

The worst-hit parts are Abyan Lowland with 23%, Lahj Lowland with 21%, Taiz Lowland with 22% and consequently Hodeida’s lowland with 27% acutely malnourished children.

Tomson Phiri, spokesperson of World Food Programme said, “Those predictions, from what we are gathering on the ground, are likely to be an underestimate. It is highly likely that the situation is worse than initially projected as conditions continue to worsen beyond the forecast levels. Why is this so? The underlying assumptions of the projections have either been or are close to being surpassed”.

Above all the upraising food insecurity, insufficient and poor diet, the widespread presence of communicable disease, limited and distorted medical facilities, poor sanitation, the inevitability of vaccine etc have made Yemen one of the most difficult place for the survival of children and mother.

An entire generation of Yemen at risk

From time to time humanitarian aid has helped to keep the number of children suffering from crisis, to somewhat is control, but this year even that seems falling off the cliff.

World Food Programme has been warning about the catastrophic food insecurity crisis since July. ” “If the war doesn’t end now, we are nearing an irreversible situation and risk losing an entire generation of Yemen’s young children. The data we are releasing today confirms that acute malnutrition among children is hitting the highest levels we have seen since the war started” says Ms Lise Grande a Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen.

United Nation and partners have asked the world for the urgent help of more than $50 million to the safe life of these children. By the mid-October the funding was only $1.43 of required $3.2 was received.