Children in Yemen face acute humanitarian needs: Unicef

Amman: Three years of war coupled with decades of chronic underdevelopment in Yemen has resulted in 11 million children plagued by malnutrition and disease and facing acute humanitarian needs, according to the Unicef.

Geert Cappelaere, Unicef’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said on Sunday that Yemeni children have been killed or seriously injured at a minimum rate of five per day in 2017 alone, reports Xinhua news agency.

The outbreaks of cholera and diphtheria have also claimed hundreds of lives.

“Much more attention is needed to (be paid to) the situation in Yemen. This has been rightly described as one of the worst humanitarian crises the world has ever known,” Cappelaere told reporters.

Yemen, already one of the poorest countries in the Middle East, has been devastated by a civil war since 2015, when what was supposed to be a peaceful transition of power from the long-time president Ali Abdullah Saleh, to his deputy Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi evolved into a regional conflict.

With the Houthi rebel group joining the fight as well as an intervention by the coalition troops led by Saudi Arabia, Yemen has been dragged into a civil war which shows no sign of abating.

“It is fair to say today that every single girl and boy in Yemen is facing acute humanitarian needs,” Cappelaere said, adding that the war and underdevelopment had done “unfortunately nothing good” for the children.

The official said there were 200,000 children suffering from severe malnutrition in 2015, already one of the highest numbers in the world by then. Yet, the number has doubled in three years’ time till now, according to Cappelaere.

Further elaborating on the worsening humanitarian situation in the war-torn country, Cappelaere said that close to 2 million Yemeni children were deprived of education, and that a large proportion of girls are forced to marry at early ages — 75 per cent of them before the age of 18 and half younger than 15.

The official called for an immediate cease of war and urged authorities in all parts of the country to allow entry of humanitarian assistance without preconditions.