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The War on Yemen’s Children

Three-year-old Yemeni girl seeking medical help for malnutrition, January 2019. (Voice of America/Screengrab).

UNICEF’s Henrietta Fore details the horrifying impact of the war on Yemen on Yemeni children:

Around 360,000 suffer severe acute malnutrition, and half of Yemeni children under-five – or 2.5 million – have stunted growth, an irreversible condition [bold mine-DL]. More than two million are out of school: “In short, the systems that every child and family needs, are failing”, said the UNICEF chief.

Yemen’s humanitarian crisis remains the worst in the world, and it will continue to worsen the longer that the war goes on. Yemen’s youngest children are among the worst affected by this crisis, and they are suffering from severe acute malnutrition or preventable disease or both by the hundreds of thousands. Many millions more suffer from less extreme levels of malnutrition. As Fore explained, millions of children under the age of 5 already suffer from stunted growth. They will all bear the marks of this war for the rest of their lives. The health and development of millions of Yemenis will be permanently harmed by the effects of this war long after the fighting stops. Starvation and disease are the biggest killers in Yemen, and the conditions for both have been created and then exacerbated by the coalition’s bombing, blockade, and economic warfare.

Fore went on to say this:

“Mr President, we are at a tipping point. If the war continues any longer, the country may move past the point of no return…How long will we continue allowing Yemen to slide into oblivion?”

The U.N.’s humanitarian chief added that famine still threatens millions of people, and the new cholera outbreak continues to spread and has almost matched the numbers for all of 2018 in the first four months of this year:

The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock, told members that ten million were still in need of emergency food assistance, while the “spectre of famine still looms”. Cholera has affected 300,000 this year alone, compared with 370,000 during the whole of 2018.

The rest of the world has repeatedly failed to halt Yemen’s “slide into oblivion,” and we are failing again. There is more awareness of the humanitarian crisis in the U.S. than there used to be, and there have been some significant steps taken in the effort to end U.S. involvement in the war, but for the most part the plight of the people of Yemen continues to be neglected and ignored. The scale and severity of Yemen’s humanitarian crisis require an urgent, massive relief effort. Before that can be fully effective, there also needs to be an end to the war. Continued U.S. backing for the Saudi coalition is an impediment to bringing the war to an end, and as long as the Trump administration is prepared to indulge the Saudis and Emiratis a lasting peace in Yemen will be elusive.

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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