Re­port: Starv­ing Ye­me­nis eat leaves to sur­vive amid war

Iran Daily - - Society -

Many Ye­meni fam­i­lies re­port­edly have noth­ing to eat but leaves as a hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis caused by Saudi Ara­bia’s deadly bomb­ing cam­paign on the im­pov­er­ished state reaches a crit­i­cal stage.

The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported that peo­ple in the As­lam district of Ye­men’s north­west­ern Ha­j­jah Prov­ince rely on leaves from the lo­cal vine, known as Halas in Ara­bic or Ara­bian Wax Leaf in Eng­lish, due to wors­en­ing hunger, presstv. com wrote.

Moth­ers, the re­port said, pick the leaves, then wash and boil them into a sour, acidic green paste to stave off star­va­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal health fig­ures, As­lam recorded one of Ha­j­jah’s high­est jumps in the num­ber of mal­nour­ished chil­dren, from 384 cases be­ing treated in Jan­uary, an ad­di­tional 1,319 more came in over the next six months.

Ad­di­tion­ally, As­lam’s main health cen­ter has no pe­di­a­tri­cians, elec­tric­ity, oxy­gen cylin­ders and fuel for gen­er­a­tors, the re­port said.

“As­lam is just an­other pic­ture of So­ma­lia,” said Saleh al Faqih, a worker in a mo­bile Health Min­istry clinic.

In the vil­lage of al-mashrada, sit­u­ated near As­lam, the mother of a seven-month-old girl, Zahra, is un­der­nour­ished her­self and is of­ten un­able to breast­feed her child.

“Since the day she was born, I have not had the money to buy her milk or buy her medicine,” said the mother who feeds her whole fam­ily with Halas mush.

“We are in the 21st cen­tury, but this is what the war did to us,” said Mekkiya Mahdi, the As­lam health cen­ter chief.

At least 20 chil­dren are known to have died of star­va­tion this year in Ha­j­jah.

Walid al-shamshan, the head of the Health Min­istry’s nu­tri­tion sec­tion in Ha­j­jah, said the prov­ince had seen 17,000 cases of se­vere acute mal­nu­tri­tion in first six months of 2018, higher than in any full year on record.

“Deaths hap­pen in re­mote vil­lages where peo­ple can’t reach the health units,” Shamshan said. “It’s a steady de­te­ri­o­ra­tion and it’s scary.” Saudi Ara­bia and its al­lies launched a bru­tal war, code-named Op­er­a­tion De­ci­sive Storm, against Ye­men in March 2015 in an at­tempt to re­in­stall for­mer pres­i­dent Abd Rab­buh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, and crush Houthis.

The Western-backed of­fen­sive ini­tially con­sisted of a bomb­ing cam­paign, but was later cou­pled with a naval block­ade and the de­ploy­ment of ground forces into Ye­men.

The block­ade on Ye­men has smoth­ered hu­man­i­tar­ian de­liv­er­ies of food and medicine to the im­port-de­pen­dent coun­try.

An es­ti­mated 8.4 mil­lion Ye­me­nis are on the verge of star­va­tion. In this Au­gust 25, 2018 photo, a man feeds chil­dren Halas, a climb­ing vine of green leaves, in As­lam, Ha­j­jah, in Ye­men.

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