“According to a press release from UNICEF, 2.3 million children are predicted to be malnourished in Yemen this year”
The long-standing humanitarian crisis in Yemen and subsequent civil war have caused a six-year stalemate. The civil war is between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis, a rebel group backed by Iran. When the Houthis overthrew the government of Yemen, a Saudi-led coalition of forces came together to oust the Houthis and restore the Yemeni government. What was supposed to be a weeks-long feud became years of destruction and suffering. Essential goods are inaccessible, infrastructure is constantly destroyed, man-made and natural obstacles impact civilians, and the ones who are suffering the most are the children.
Every year, video documentaries of the malnourished children of Yemen remind the world that the crisis hasn’t ended. Despite organizations like the United Nations providing various resources, it is not enough. According to a press release from UNICEF, 2.3 million children are predicted to be malnourished in Yemen this year. Of those, 400,000 children may face the worst of it and die from starvation. The Saudi military blocked ports and resources from entering to prevent the Houthis from obtaining weaponry and essential supplies. This blockade impacted civilians in such a way that starvation has become their everyday battle. Currently, a fuel blockade by Saudi warships is preventing access to almost every necessity, leading to an upsurge in malnutrition and poverty. Without fuel, Yemeni citizens are unable to transport essential healthcare, food, and people to safer places.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic and inaccessibility of the COVID-19 vaccine has heightened the need for proper food and medicine distribution. These two necessities are limited because of the lack of transportation. Unfortunately, without proper transportation for resources and travel, even when parents do make it to the hospital to get their malnourished children the care they need, it is too late. For you to understand how bad it is, you must understand what malnutrition means in this case. Malnutrition can be related to deficiencies caused by starvation and the lack of consumption of essential vitamins or minerals. This can often lead to stunted growth as well as physical and intellectual disabilities. Nutrition is a highly influential factor that is critical in early development. In fact, malnutrition in early development may trigger certain epigenetic modifications that could increase the risk for diseases like type 2 diabetes, ultimately leading to a greater burden on Yemeni healthcare.
Hospitals in Yemen do not have enough resources, and only about half of the health facilities are running. The ones that are running have the bare minimum to even keep the lights on, and there aren’t many vital machines or essential specialists to treat specific conditions. Vice News’ recent coverage on the crisis showed how challenging it is for Yemeni families to get by with the limited and, in most cases, inaccessible health care. In the video, a child chewed on their own fingers due to their insatiable hunger; after visiting the mobile clinic, the mother was given some food for the child, but the child passed away a few days later. At the rate that babies grow, they need a lot to sustain that growth. According to the CDC, in the early months of a baby’s development, the baby will need to be fed at least 8-12 times over 24 hours. How is this possible when the mothers themselves are struggling with their own nutrition? The result is children dying before they can even take their first steps.
It is unknown when this war and blockade will end. As we see throughout history, a power-embroiled conflict like this deeply affects the innocent and helpless. We fear diseases like cancer and heart disease, but in Yemen, they fear an empty stomach. When hunger kills, the only medicine that can fix that is food. How do we get this food to the people who need it?
If you are interested in donating or helping the Yemeni people, please check out the links below: