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The Worsening Humanitarian Catastrophe in Yemen

The humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen continues to worsen:

According to the UN, a shocking one in three children under five in Yemen is now severely malnourished [bold mine-DL].

And if getting food to those in need is not already hard enough, last week the Saudi coalition bombed the last bridge linking the port to the capital [bold mine-DL].

“Seven hundred thousand children need specialised support in terms of nutritional support. Of that 700,000 people, we’ve only got enough support for 70,000, so that’s 10 per cent,” the UN’s Jamie McGoldrick says with frustration.

“So, who knows what’s happened to the other 600,000 plus?”

It can be difficult to fathom the scale of the humanitarian disaster in Yemen. The country’s infrastructure has been devastated, its health system is in ruins, more than three million people have been displaced internally, and half the country’s population is on the verge of famine or close to being so. 14 million people are considered “food insecure.” In terms of the sheer number of people at risk from starvation and preventable diseases, Yemen is now pretty clearly the worst humanitarian crisis on earth, and it has reached this point in just the last seventeen months since the Saudi-led intervention began. The blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition is most responsible for making the crisis as bad as it is.

The victims of the coalition’s blockade often go unnoticed by the outside world, and there is scant awareness of the responsibility that the coalition and its Western backers have for creating this calamity. This report includes brief descriptions of two such children:

At Al Sabheen hospital in Sana’a, we meet the parents of 17-month-old Eissa, hovering over their son. He is severely malnourished and close to death.

Over in the next ward is Emtiaz. She is two but so acutely malnourished she weighs as much as some newborns. Her grandma says all they have had at home recently is tea and bread.

These children and hundreds of thousands more like them are in mortal peril largely because of the Saudi-led intervention backed by our government. We do not yet know the full extent of the horrible damage this war is doing to the civilian population of Yemen, but it is likely to be much worse and even more appalling than it seems right now.

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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