“I USED TO LOVE WRITING BUT NOW I CAN’T EVEN HOLD A PEN”
Children in Yemen bear the brunt of an endless war
Sana’a, December 20, 2017 – Today marks 1,000 days since the international escalation of the conflict in Yemen, which has already led to the deaths of thousands of children from violence, hunger or preventable diseases like cholera.
Since March 26, 2015, the situation in Yemen, already the poorest country in the Middle East, has deteriorated into a living nightmare where children starve to death daily and are shelled and bombed in their homes and schools.
Thousands have been left with life-changing injuries, like 13-year-old Noran (name changed) who is wheelchair-bound after the blast wave from an airstrike knocked her down and seriously damaged her spine. Her father is the sole provider for her and her seven sisters but he hasn’t been paid his public-sector salary for nearly a year and a half. Life is now a daily struggle.
13-year-old Noran says:
“I used to go to school on foot, my life was beautiful because I could walk and write. Now, I can’t walk to school. I can only go with the wheelchair. I used to be able to sit in a chair at my desk and write but now when I try to write, my hand hurts because of the injury in my back. I used to love writing, but now I can’t even hold a pen.”
The Yemen Data Project, an independent NGO that monitors attacks in the country, reports that there have been 15,000 air strikes in the past 1,000 days. The use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas is increasing as modern warfare becomes more protracted and urban in nature, and children are paying the price. Research suggests when these bombs are dropped on towns and cities, 92% of the casualties are civilians. On average globally, a civilian dies every hour of every day because of mortars, missiles, air-dropped bombs, rockets and other deadly explosive weapons.
The impact of these kinds of weapons are far-reaching. Noran’s life-changing injuries were not caused by the actual explosion, but by a blast wave that was so powerful it devastated her fragile body.
“I call on all the free people around the world to stop the war in Yemen for me and for all the other children in Yemen. It’s our right to learn, it’s our right to build a bright future. I don’t want more children to be injured like me, it is not fair! I don’t want them to be like me.”
George Graham, Director of Conflict and Humanitarian Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns, Save the Children, says:
“Noran’s articulate and poignant message must be heard by world leaders who have the power to enforce a ceasefire and negotiate a peace deal in Yemen."
"This week, the British Government made a very welcome pledge for more aid funding for Yemen and to open access into the country, but humanitarian and commercial supplies are still being impeded, atrocities are continuing and the UK hasn’t stopped selling weapons that fuel the fighting."
"After 1,000 bitter days, now more than ever, the children of Yemen deserve concerted international action to end the violence and give them hope for a better future.”
As a result of the war in Yemen:
- 4.5 million children and pregnant or lactating women are now acutely malnourished, representing a 148 percent increase since late 2014.
- 462,000 children are suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) – a 200 percent increase since 2014.
- Based on current trends there could be nearly 600,000 severely malnourished children aged under-five in Yemen in 2018.
- According to the WHO there have now been almost one million cases of cholera in Yemen.
- 63 out of every 1,000 live births now die before their fifth birthday, against 53 children in 2014.
- More than 1,900 out of 3,507 health facilities in 16 governorates have either completely shut down or been forced to scale back operations.
- 4.5 million children were unable to go to school this term, which could have a devastating and life-long impact on their development.
Tamer Kirolos, Yemen Country Director, Save the Children, says:
“It’s been 1,000 days since the Saudi Arabia and UAE-led Coalition started bombing and fighting in Yemen, and even longer since deadly violence broke out across the country. In that time, the devastation of Yemen has been unimaginably absolute. The conduct of all warring parties has been deplorable. We have seen civilians killed, schools and hospitals bombed, and humanitarian access severely restricted. All of this has seemingly intentionally created conditions in which children are starving and are not able to get suitable medical attention."
“In the face of all this suffering, the international community’s inaction or inability to end the suffering of Yemen’s children is shameful. We expect 50,000 children to die this year alone, and if this war continues there will be countless more lives lost needlessly across Yemen.”
“We know what needs to happen. We need an immediate end to any restrictions that are stopping humanitarian aid and commercial supplies of fuel, food and medicine from getting in and we also urgently need a credible ceasefire and a negotiated peace deal. The UN Security Council must put its full effort into making this happen now."
“We cannot allow the war in Yemen to continue for even one more day. If those in power, or those with the influence to end this war, do not bring about a peaceful solution to the conflict they will be complicit in condemning the children of Yemen to even more death and misery.”
Multimedia content including Noran’s case study, stills and video available here
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
- The total number of people in need of humanitarian assistance is 22.2 million – or nearly 76 per cent of the population, including 11.3 million children.
- More than 6.5 million children are in need of protection assistance
- Yemen is facing the largest food security emergency in the world: 17.8 million people, including 9 million children, are food insecure: 8.4 million people in IPC Phase 4 ‘emergency’ and 10.2 million people in IPC Phase 3 ‘crises’
- 16 million people lack clean water and sanitation, including more than 8.1 million children
- More than half of the health facilities in 16 of the 22 assessed governorates in Yemen are closed or partially functioning due to the conflict, leaving over 16.4 million people in need of basic healthcare including 8.4 million children
- Clashes in the streets of Sana’a subsided, after the death of the former president Ali Abdulla Saleh along with other senior leaders of GPC on 4 December, and Houthi forces controlled the city. A tense calm has returned to parts of Sana’a, allowing civilians to venture outside their residences to seek medical care and supplies. Others have decided to leave the city in search of safety, concerned over how the security situation may evolve.
- Since the conflict escalation, GDP per capita has reduced by 35% while inflation has increased by 30%.
- Salaries for health facility staff, teachers and other public sectors workers, on which about 30 percent of the population depends, have not been regularly paid since August 2016.
- The World Bank estimates that poverty levels have doubled and are now at 62%.
- Yemen is experiencing a liquidity crisis, in which people, traders and humanitarian partners struggle to pay for both activities and commodities.
- Hundreds of thousands of Civilians penned into East Aleppo
- Hurricane Irma: 1.2 Million people in Dominican Republic without access to clean, running water causing huge increase in risk of diseases
- Hurricane Patricia: Save the Children warns of risk to vulnerable children as threat of landslides and flash floods trail superstorm
- Aid worker with Save the Children partner killed in Idlib airstrikes, Syria
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