Mil­lions of Ye­meni chil­dren fac­ing deadly hunger amidst aid short­ages, COVID-19: UNICEF

Iran Daily - - Society -

Mil­lions of Ye­meni chil­dren in the heart of the world’s worst hu­man­i­tar­ian disas­ter could be pushed to the brink of star­va­tion, due to huge short­falls in hu­man­i­tar­ian aid fund­ing amid the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, the UN Chil­dren’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Fri­day.

Mark­ing more than five years since con­flict es­ca­lated in the coun­try be­tween govern­ment forces and their al­lies, against Ye­men’s Houthi An­sarul­lah move­ment, the new UNICEF re­port warns the num­ber of mal­nour­ished chil­dren could reach 2.4 mil­lion by end of year, al­most half of all un­der-fives, re­ported.

An ad­di­tional 30,000 chil­dren could de­velop life-threat­en­ing se­vere acute mal­nu­tri­tion over the next six months.

‘Ye­men five years on: Chil­dren, con­flict and COVID-19’ warns that as Ye­men’s dev­as­tated health sys­tem and in­fra­struc­ture over­all strug­gles to cope with the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, the al­ready dire sit­u­a­tion for chil­dren is likely to de­te­ri­o­rate con­sid­er­ably.

Sys­temic fail­ure

UNICEF re­ported that an ad­di­tional 6,600 chil­dren un­der five could die from pre­ventable causes by the end of the year. With a health sys­tem tee­ter­ing closer to col­lapse, only half of health fa­cil­i­ties are op­er­a­tional, with huge short­ages in medicine, equip­ment and staff.

More than eight mil­lion peo­ple, nearly half of them chil­dren, de­pend di­rectly on the agency for wa­ter, san­i­ta­tion and hy­giene (WASH), amid on­go­ing con­flict, cholera out­breaks and the COVID-19 pan­demic.

“We can­not over­state the scale of this emer­gency as chil­dren, in what is al­ready the world’s worst hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis, bat­tle for sur­vival as COVID-19 takes hold”, said Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UNICEF rep­re­sen­ta­tive to Ye­men.

“As the world’s at­ten­tion fo­cuses on the COVID-19 pan­demic I fear the chil­dren of Ye­men will be all but for­got­ten. De­spite our own pre­oc­cu­pa­tions right now, we all have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to act and help the chil­dren of Ye­men. They have the same rights of any child, any­where,” Nyanti added.

In the re­port, the agency alerts for al­most 10 mil­lion chil­dren with­out proper ac­cess to wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion, as well as for 7.8 mil­lion chil­dren with­out ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion, fol­low­ing school clo­sures.

Wide­spread ab­sence from class and a wors­en­ing econ­omy could put chil­dren at greater risk of child la­bor, re­cruit­ment into armed groups and child mar­riage, the re­port high­lights.

‘Brink of star­va­tion’

“If we do not re­ceive ur­gent fund­ing, chil­dren will be pushed to the brink of star­va­tion and many will die. The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity will be send­ing a mes­sage that the lives of chil­dren in a na­tion dev­as­tated by con­flict, dis­ease and eco­nomic col­lapse, sim­ply do not mat­ter,” Nyanti pointed.

The re­port warns that un­less $54.5 mil­lion is re­ceived for health and nutrition ser­vices by the end of

Au­gust, more than 23,000 chil­dren with se­vere acute mal­nu­tri­tion will be at in­creased risk of dy­ing; there will be short­ages on the chil­dren’s im­mu­niza­tion, and 19 mil­lion peo­ple will lose ac­cess to health care, in­clud­ing one mil­lion preg­nant and breastfeed­ing moth­ers and their chil­dren.

The re­port also high­lights that cru­cial wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion ser­vices for three mil­lion chil­dren and their com­mu­ni­ties will be­gin to shut down from the end of July, un­less $45 mil­lion is se­cured.

“UNICEF is work­ing around the clock in in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions to get aid to chil­dren in des­per­ate need, but we only have a frac­tion of the fund­ing re­quired to do this”, con­cluded Nyanti.


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