Yemen crisis: Five million children at risk of starvation, Save the Children warns

'Millions of children don’t know when or if their next meal will come'

Toyin Owoseje
Wednesday 19 September 2018 21:01 BST

Over five million children are now facing starvation in Yemen as the ongoing conflict causes food and fuel prices to soar across the war-torn country, Save the Children has warned.

A new report from the charity said that a collapsing economy and disruption to food and fuel supplies coming through the Arab nation’s main Hodeidah port could have devastating consequences for the most vulnerable.

An extra one million children now risk falling into famine, bringing the total to 5.2 million. Any type of closure at the port “risks killing an entire generation”, it said.

“The nutrition crisis in Yemen has serious implications," said Save the Children’s Yemen Country Director Tamer Kirolos. "Severely malnourished children are 12 times more likely to die from preventable diseases like pneumonia, measles, cholera or diphtheria. Children who are stunted suffer physical and often irreversible long-term cognitive damage.

“Even the smallest disruption to food, fuel and aid supplies through its vital port could mean death for hundreds of thousands of malnourished children unable to get the food they need to stay alive.”

The conflict in Yemen has raged since 2015, when Saudi Arabia formed a coalition to fight back against Houthi rebels who took control of the capital and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee.

An estimated 8.4million people in the impoverished nation are malnourished. A United Nations study revealed that the price of food, which was a primary expenditure for 96 per cent of households, had gone up by an average of 68 percent since 2015. The organisation said 981 civilians, including 300 children, died in Yemen in August alone.

Democratic talks in Geneva collapsed this month after clashes between rebels and troops loyal to President Mansour resumed around Hodeeida, which Yemen’s largest commercial port and the primary gateway for food and fuel to the rest of the country.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International, detailed the devastation she had witnessed, saying “babies were too weak to cry”

“Millions of children don’t know when or if their next meal will come. In one hospital I visited in north Yemen, the babies were too weak to cry, their bodies exhausted by hunger. This war risks killing an entire generation of Yemen’s children who face multiple threats, from bombs to hunger to preventable diseases like cholera,” Ms Thorning-Schmidt added.

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