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Friday, 22 July 2016

As number of malnourished babies and children soars

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is worsening by the day, with the latest statistics revealing more than 14 million people are in desperate need of food.

One in three Yemeni children under five – approximately 1.3 million – are suffering from acute malnutrition.

Nine governorates are now in a state of emergency, just one step away from being declared a ‘famine’, including the besieged city of Taiz and the major port city of Al Hodeidah.

Malnourished babies

Footage gathered by Save the Children shows babies aged between three and twelve months fighting for life in intensive care units at Al-Sabeen Hospital in the capital Sana’a.

Edward Santiago, Save the Children’s Country Director in Yemen, said: “We’re particularly alarmed at spiralling malnutrition amongst babies and children. Every day, more and more families face an increased risk of being pushed into acute malnutrition as supplies dwindle, prices skyrocket and poverty rises.

“Even when Yemeni families can get their critically ill babies to a functioning hospital, the electricity supply is patchy and fuel to run back up generators is scarce, meaning lifesaving equipment does not always function properly.

“The catastrophic food crisis in Yemen is clearly getting worse, and as we have seen so many times, it’s babies and children who suffer the consequences most.”

The conflict, between a Saudi Arabia-led coalition and armed opposition groups including Houthis, has killed more than 6,000 and cut off food, fuel, clean water and medical supplies.

While a de facto blockade on imports by the Saudi-led coalition has now eased, stocks of food and fuel remain perilously low. Food is 60% more expensive than before the conflict began in March 2015, and cooking gas is 76% more expensive.

The latest statistics reveal more than 2.7million people – out of a population of – have been displaced owing to the conflict, meaning they have lost their livelihoods and jobs. So even when people can find food to buy, many cannot afford it and their families go hungry.

Traumatised children

With more than 1,600 schools destroyed or shut, it is unsurprising that a third of school age children in Yemen do not have access to education.

Santiago said: “The psychological impact of the conflict has been devastating for children with many showing symptoms associated with distress and trauma including anxiety, low-self-esteem and lack of concentration.

“We support 300 children in our Child Friendly Spaces in Sana’a – giving them the opportunity to play, learn, create and spend time with their friends in a safe place where they can forget what they’ve been through. But ultimately their recovery requires an environment in which they are not in daily fear for their lives.”


Notes to editors

The latest malnutrition statistics were published by the IPC in June 2016 to cover the period June through September 2016.

According to the UN, 1.3 million children under five years old are suffering from acute malnutrition, with 320,000 suffering from severe acute malnutrition.This represents almost a third of around 4.5 million children under five in Yemen.

Alongside other parties to the conflict in Yemen, the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition was listed in the UN ‘list of shame’ for violations against children – for killing and maiming children, and attacking schools and hospitals – published on June 2nd. It was promptly removed following pressure from Saudi Arabia.

Save the Children has been working in Yemen since 1963.