While the United States is reported to have intensified its drone attacks on revolutionary Yemen, the United Nations informed that five million Yemenis – or nearly a quarter of the population– are severely food insecure. Meanwhile, at least 800,000 children are suffering from acute malnutrition.
Moreover, the use of the heavy weaponry, land-mines and detonating unexploded ordnance in Yemen have claimed the lives of 27 children and maimed 32 others so far this year, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported.
Across the country, some 76 schools have been occupied by families displaced by the conflict, and updated data on nutrition indicates a rise in the number of acutely malnourished children to 967,000 – almost one in four – a UNICEF spokesperson, Merixie Mercado, said.
“Stunting rates, a sign of chronic malnutrition, are at 60 per cent, with the children at risk of irreversible physical and cognitive damage,” she added.
UNICEF has called for its partners to “dig deep” for the funding of its activities in the country, as well urged delegates who will attend the Friends of Yemen meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on 23 May, to keep children at the centre of security and political discussions.
According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), the emergency in Yemen has all the indications of an “acute humanitarian crisis, with nearly the entire population affected.”
“The crisis has had an impact on the delivery of essential health services such as immunization, management and treatment of child illnesses, control of communicable and non-communicable diseases and reproductive health services,” a WHO spokesperson, Tarik Jasarevic, said.
There has also been a measles outbreak, blamed on the fact that 20 per cent of the immunization facilities are not currently functional. Since the beginning of the outbreak, 170 children have died from 4,500 reported cases of measles.
WHO and UNICEF assisted the Ministry of Health to carry out a vaccination campaign in March and April that reached 7.6 million children aged between six months and ten years of age across the country – a coverage rate of 98 per cent.
Two rounds of a national polio immunization campaign were conducted in December 2011 and January this year, and two more are planned in high-risk areas this year. Jasarevic said that there have also been outbreaks of dengue fever and Chikungunya among Ethiopian and Somali refugees.
Humanitarian Response, Only 25 % Funded
The humanitarian response plan for Yemen this year is currently 25 per cent funded, while the health component of the appeal has attracted only 15 per cent of the $56.2 million required, he added.
“I am very concerned by the acute humanitarian situation in Yemen, despite the recent, positive political developments. Millions of vulnerable people need help with health care, clean water and basic sanitation, food and nutrition,” the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Catherine Bragg, had said on 17 April after her third visit to the country in 18 months.
Bragg was in Yemen assessing developments since her last visit in November 2011, and discussing with partners, including the Government and donors, ways of further strengthening the humanitarian response, despite serious security constraints.
Food Insecurity Doubled in Two Years
New data shows that food insecurity in Yemen has doubled over the last two years. Five million people, or nearly a quarter of the population, are severely food insecure, meaning that they are not able to grow or buy enough food for their family and need urgent assistance.
At least 800,000 children are suffering from acute malnutrition. Degradation of health, water and education systems also pose long-term challenges to Yemen’s recovery.
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