Children in Yemen are wasting away as conflict and a struggle for power continue in the beleaguered country. UNICEF just released findings from a nutrition study in the Abyan governorate in Southern Yemen. They found a shocking Global Acute Malnutrition rate among 18.6 percent of the children. The emergency threshold number is considered 15 percent.
When children do not receive proper nutrition, their growth is stunted in body as well as mind. They became more susceptible to illness.
While the South is suffering with malnutrition, so too is the North. In this area years of conflict between the government and rebels has taken its toll on the population. UNICEF says that “In Sa’ada, high malnutrition rates continue to be identified and children referred for treatment.
Out of a total of 234 children screened, 47 were referred to a therapeutic feeding center, while 128 were enrolled in outpatient therapeutic care (75% admission rate for severe acute malnutrition).”
A number of households in Yemen are reporting family members going to bed hungry. UNICEF says the capital Sana’a reported the highest percentage of household members going to bed hungry due to lack of food (67.5%) compared (to) Amran (45%) and Hodeida (25%). Food prices have risen steeply in recent months putting an extra crushing burden on the poor.
Even before this year of political unrest, hunger was a crisis in Yemen. This year had deepened this catastrophe to the highest levels of emergency.
Funding remains low for hunger relief missions by the UN World Food Programme and UNICEF. These agencies depend entirely on voluntary funding from the international community.
Supplies of the miracle food plumpy’nut, which can stave off malnutrition, are not available to all children. Funding for UNICEF and WFP would need to be increased. Without this supply, another generation of children will be burdened with long-term physical and mental impairment.