Skeletal child is just one of five million at risk of death in war-torn Yemen




By: Jane Wharton

Hungry but too weak to cry, this skeletal child is more than one of five million whose life is at risk in the food crisis in Yemen. Harrowing pictures are now emerging showing the full devastating scale of the famine in the war-torn country, which has been called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Food and fuel prices are soaring amid warnings an entire generation may face death and ‘starvation on an unprecedented scale.’

The three-year war on Yemen, the already impoverished country to the brink of famine, leaving many unable to afford food and water. ‘Millions of children don’t know when or if their next meal will come,’ said Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International. ‘This war risks killing an entire generation of Yemen’s children who face multiple threats, from bombs to hunger to preventable diseases like cholera.’ The already dire humanitarian situation is being exacerbated by the battle for the lifeline port of Hodeida, which is threatening to disrupt what little aid is trickling into the country.

Located on Yemen’s Red Sea coast, the city is controlled by the Houthis and blockaded by Saudi Arabia and its allies. Having already identified four million children at risk of starvation, Save The Children has now warned that another million could now face famine as the Hodeida battle escalates. ‘In one hospital I visited in north Yemen, the babies were too weak to cry, their bodies exhausted by hunger,’ said Thorning-Schmidt. Food prices in some parts of the country have doubled in just a few days and families faced impossible choices on whether to pay to take a baby to hospital at the expense of feeding the rest of the family.

A total of 5.2 million children across Yemen are now at risk of starvation, according to the Britain-based NGO. The World Food Programme last year warned that food had become a ‘weapon of war’ in Yemen, where fighting, cholera and looming famine have created what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The United Nations has warned that any major fighting in Hodeida could halt food distributions to eight million Yemenis dependent on them for survival. The country’s economy and population of 22 million people depend almost entirely on imports. Deadly clashes resumed earlier this week around Hodeida after UN-sponsored talks collapsed in Geneva earlier this month. ‘Time is running out for aid agencies in Yemen to prevent this country from slipping into a devastating famine and we cannot afford any disruption to the lifeline we are providing for the innocent victims of this conflict,’ said World Food Programme director David Beasley.

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