UNICEF: 3.3m Suffering From Malnutrition in Yemen

Center for the displaced children in Sana’a, YemenCenter for the displaced children in Sana’a, Yemen

Yemen has lost a decade’s worth of gains in public health as a result of war and economic crisis, with increasing numbers of children succumbing to malnutrition, the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday.

An estimated 3.3 million people, including 2.2 million children, across the Arab peninsula’s poorest country are suffering from acute malnutrition, and 460,000 under the age of five have severe acute malnutrition, the agency was cited by Reuters.

The most severe form leaves young children vulnerable to life-threatening diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections.

“What worries us is the severe acute malnutrition because it is killing children,” Meritxell Relano, UNICEF representative in Yemen, told Reuters in Geneva.

“Because of the crumbling health system, the conflict and economic crisis, we have gone back to 10 years ago. A decade has been lost in health gains.”

She noted that 63 out of every 1,000 live births are now dying before their fifth birthday, against 53 children in 2014.

The Yemeni conflict has left more than half of the country’s 28 million people “food insecure”, with seven million of them enduring hunger, the United Nations has said.

Jamie McGoldrick, the top UN aid official in the country, told Reuters on Friday that Yemen has roughly three months’ supply of wheat left to draw from, leaving the country exposed to serious disruption as a central bank crisis cuts food imports and starvation deepens.

UNICEF is seeking $236.5 million for Yemen this year, as part of its overall appeal of $3.3 billion to help women and children in 48 countries.

Previously dependent on imports for 90% of its staple food, the country has been hit hard by a naval embargo imposed by the Saudi-led coalition, fighting around the government-controlled port of Aden and airstrikes on the port of Hudaydah.

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