16 million Yemenis going hungry, 5 million on the brink of famine: UN aid chief. Ahmadiya Juaidi’s eyes widen as he drinks a nutritious meal in a large orange line, his little fingers gripping the handle. Her hair is loosened and her neck hangs a silver necklace with heart and letter A.
Three weeks ago the 13-year-old boy weighed 9 pounds (20 kg) when he was admitted to al-Sabeen Hospital in the Yemeni capital Sanaa for malnutrition that had plagued him for at least four years. Now he weighs 15 pounds.
“I’m afraid when we return to the countryside his condition will deteriorate again due to malnutrition. We have no money,” his older brother, Muhammad Abdo Taher Shami, told Reuters.
They are among the 16 million Yemenis – more than half the population of the Arabian Peninsula – the United Nations says they are hungry. Of those, five million are at risk of starvation, warns UN aid chief Mark Lowcock.
On Monday the United Nations hopes to raise $ 3.85 billion in a commemorative event to avoid what Lowcock says will be the biggest “man-made” famine, the worst in the world for decades.
More than six years of war in Yemen – widely regarded as a legal dispute between Saudi Arabia and Iran – has sent a poor country closer to what the United Nations describes as a major humanitarian crisis.
Another 80% of Yemenis need help, and 400,000 children under the age of five are severely malnourished, according to UN data. With so much of its food, the country relies on imports that have been severely disrupted over the years by all warring factions.
Lowcock said that before the war Yemen was a poor country with malnutrition, but it was the one that had a functioning economy, he also said that a government that provided services to its people, a national infrastructure and a export center. He then said that the war has ruined all of that.
He added that tIn today’s society hunger is about people who have no money and that some people are blocking efforts to help them. He said that this is what they have in Yemen.
HUNGER VS PANDEMIC
The Saudi-led coalition led to Yemen in 2015 after the Houthi faction, a coalition with Iran, ousted the country’s government from Sanaa. Human suffering has been exacerbated by economic and financial collapse, as well as the Covid-19 epidemic.
UN officials are trying to revive peace talks, and new US President Joe Biden has said Yemen is a priority, announcing that US support for the Saudi-led military campaign will be suspended and they want the war “to end.”
Twelve aid groups, including the Oxfam, Save the Children and Care International, have warned that near to about 2.3 million children under the age of five in Yemen will go hungry this year if governments do not raise their money on Monday.
Muhsin Siddiquey who is the Oxfam’s country director in Yemen, recounted an interview with an 18-year-old woman who was displaced by war and living in a camp in northern Yemen.
Siddiquey told the Reuters said that he said the coronavirus epidemic gives them two brutal choices: either to stay home and to starve, or they go out and die of the disease.
Official figures undermine the spread of Covid-19 in Yemen, according to the United Nations and aid agencies.
In 2018 and 2019, the United Nations was able to stave off famine as a result of well-paid aid programs, which included large donations from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait.
In 2020 the United Nations received just over half of the $ 3.4 billion needed, Lowcock blamed on small donations from Gulf states. He urged them to promise to give in 2021 and to pay immediately.
The United Arab Emirates said on Friday it would promise $ 230 million by 2021.16 million Yemenis going hungry, 5 million on the brink of famine: UN aid chief