The UN has warned that with the conflict in Yemen escalating, the country is speeding towards the worst famine the world has seen in decades.
For more than six-year, the war in Yemen has created a dire situation in one of the Arab world’s poorest country.
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has reported that virtually all of Yemen’s 12 million children require some sort of assistance from humanitarian agencies.
The brunt of the conflict has severely touched its youth; with malnutrition stunting a generation of children. According to the UN, the numbers are stark with more than 2 million Yemeni children under the age of five expected to endure acute malnutrition this year.
Yet, it is not only children that need emergency care. About 1.2 million pregnant or breastfeeding women are also projected to suffer due to severe malnourishment.
Though it is often reported that Yemen is on the brink of famine due to war, international observers cannot declare whether a famine has taken place without obtaining accurate data on the ground.
A famine is said to occur when a mass number of people die from starvation or hunger-induced diseases. Regrettably, if Yemen is in fact in a state of famine; it may already be too late.
As the World Food Program executive director David Beasley explains the circumstances in Yemen is highly complex.
“The crisis in Yemen is a toxic mix of conflict, economic collapse and a severe shortage of funding to provide the life-saving help that’s desperately needed,” said Mr. Beasley.
A severe lack of funds has hampered humanitarian programs in the country, as donor nations have failed to make good on their aid commitments.
This is a major wake-up call for the international community that has been largely focused on curbing the spread of a global pandemic. Before the CO-VID19 pandemic, the international community was more willing to support this humanitarian emergency.
Last year, humanitarian programs in Yemen received only $US1.9 billion ($2.5 billion) of the required $US3.4 billion ($4.4 billion).
Yet, it is not just a war on the ground that is causing havoc. The economy has contributed to the suffering of its people as a battle over old and new banknotes has created two economies in the same state.
Feuding parties have weaponised the economy which has meant that the north and south of Yemen are not dealing with the same currencies. Inflation has also added to the nation’s woes, exacerbating the fiscal challenges.
The Houthi movement that controls the capital Sanaa, outlawed the use and possession of crisp new Yemeni riyal bills issued by its rivals in the internationally recognised government based in the southern port town of Aden.
More than ever, the international community needs to step up to mediate an agreement to end this protracted political and humanitarian crisis. Indeed, if international aid is not provided now, catastrophic mass-scale deaths in Yemen will ensue.
Please consider donating to humanitarian agencies on the ground such as the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.