Children paying the heaviest price as conflict in Yemen enters third year – UN


27 March 2017 – As the escalation of the conflict in Yemen enters its third year this week, the top United Nations humanitarian official has called on the parties to the conflict to commit to political dialogue and resolve the situation or risk an unending manmade crisis.

In a statement, Stephen O’Brien, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs underscored that in addition to wrecking the country’s economy, killing thousands and displacing millions, the fighting has brought Yemen to the brink of a famine.

&#8220During my third visit to Yemen only weeks ago, I saw the terrible and terrifying evidence of looming famine,&#8221 said Mr. O’Brien.

&#8220In the hospital ward, the complete stillness of the tiny malnourished child whose eyes focus on nothing. The grim realization that these patients were the fortunate ones who could access a hospital and might survive.&#8221

Underscoring that UN and its partners are already providing life-saving assistance in all of Yemen’s 22 governorates, reaching almost 6 million people every month, Mr. O’Brien urged parties to the conflict to expedite immediate, timely, and unimpeded humanitarian access as well as facilitate commercial activities &#8211 critical to reversing prevailing massive food insecurity and ensuring that people’s basic needs can be met.

Nearly 19 million Yemenis &#8211 over two-thirds of the population &#8211 need humanitarian assistance and, according to UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), seven million are facing starvation.

&#8220Most of all, the Yemeni people need the parties to commit to political dialogue, or this man-made crisis will never end,&#8221 noted Mr. O’Brien.

&#8220In the meantime, together we can &#8211 we must &#8211 avert this famine, this human catastrophe.&#8221

Number of children injured, recruited in conflict nearly doubled in one year &#8211 UNICEF

As with most crises, it is the children who are bearing the brunt of the suffering.

Families are having to resort to &#8220extreme measures&#8221 to support their children as coping measures have been severely eroded, turning Yemen &#8211 the poorest country in the region &#8211 into one of the largest food security and malnutrition emergencies in the world, noted United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in a new report, Falling through the Cracks today.

According to UN verified data, in the past year alone, the number of children killed increased from 900 to more than 1,500; those injured nearly doubled from 1,300 to 2,450; children recruited in fighting neared 1,580 (compared to 850 last year); and 212 schools were attacked (up from 50 last year).

Also, Yemen’s health system is on the verge of collapse, leaving close to 15 million men, women and children with no access to health care. This is all the more concerning given an outbreak of cholera and acute watery diarrhoea in October 2016 that continues to spread, with over 22,500 suspected cases and 106 deaths.

&#8220The war in Yemen continues to claim children’s lives and their future,&#8221 said Meritxell Relaño, UNICEF Representative in the war-torn country.

&#8220We need to act now to pull families back from the brink. The risks for generations to come are extremely high.&#8221

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