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The Dying Children of Yemen

Sudarsan Raghavan reports on the death of a young Yemeni boy, one of countless thousands who have perished from preventable causes because of the Saudi coalition war and blockade:

On an overcast morning a month ago, these three factors conspired against 3-year-old Younous Abdallah.

Younous had been sick for days. His family’s village was 30 miles away from Mokha, and no clinics were nearby. More than 270 hospitals and clinics in Yemen have been destroyed or damaged in airstrikes and clashes, according to the World Health Organization. Others have closed because of a lack of funds as the government poured money into waging war.

It was not until Younous’s fever soared and he started having convulsions and difficulty breathing that his father, Abdallah Ali Abdu, decided to take him to Mokha, his doctor said. Abdu was too poor to hire a car. So he wrapped Younous in a multihued blanket and transported him by motorcycle. But with the road passing near the front line and too insecure to travel at night, they had to wait until morning.

“The locals only bring their cases when in the final or late stages,” physician Abdul Hafith Rajeh said.

A Yemeni child dies every ten minutes from preventable causes. Like this little boy, these children do not have adequate food and medicine and they often don’t have access to medical care. Their families are impoverished, their country’s infrastructure has been devastated, and the costs of the food and medicine that is available are often too high for most to afford. While most are not killed directly by shells or bombs, they perish by the thousands because of the war and have to be considered its victims.

The loss of life in Yemen has already been very great, but most news reports repeat conservative estimates from years ago that put the death toll at a little over 10,000. That figure was probably too low several years ago, and today it is completely inaccurate. The true death toll from this war is probably ten times that at least, and most of the dead are the most vulnerable and weakest who succumbed to starvation or died from treatable diseases that could not be properly treated because the country has been strangled by a blockade for more than three years. These victims remain largely invisible to the outside world, but their number continues to grow each day that the coalition wrecks and starves Yemen with U.S. backing.

This young boy Younous was just three years old, and so never knew a time when his country was not being torn apart by this war. His short life was marred by want and disease. That grim story is repeated again and again around the country, and the vast majority of these deaths could be prevented if there were a cease-fire and an end to the blockade. The Saudi coalition offensive on Hodeidah threatens to make the first even less likely and severely worsen the effects of the second. There will be many more children lost as Younous was if the offensive goes forward.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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