Yemen: ‘Food and aid used as weapons of war’

Eight-month-old Sama* in a malnutrition clinic supported by Save the Children at Al Sabeen Hospital, Sana'a. She suffers from severe malnutrition.
Eight-month-old Sama* in a malnutrition clinic supported by Save the Children at Al Sabeen Hospital, Sana’a. She suffers from severe malnutrition.

Nearly two years of conflict in Yemen have already taken a terrible toll on the country’s children.

And a worrying announcement this morning suggests the country is now drawing even closer to famine.

The latest IPC (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification) assessment, released today, shows 17 million people – or 60% of the population – are now food insecure. That’s a 20% increase, or about 3 million more people, since the previous assessment in June 2016.

More worrying still, 6.8 million people have been classed as ‘IPC-4’ – meaning they’re on the verge of famine.

A country torn apart

Two years of grinding conflict have shattered Yemen – and children have been at the heart of the suffering.

3,000 have been killed or injured. Their schools, and the hospitals where they seek treatment have been targeted in attacks that may have broken international law.

But the horror doesn’t end there. Over 2 million children under the age of five are now suffering from some form of malnutrition. Over 460,000 of them are classified as severely malnourished: if they don’t get treatment urgently, they could die.

Children on the brink of death

The country’s already shattered infrastructure simply cannot cope with the pressure being placed upon it, and the situation gets more desperate by the day.

“Our teams are seeing skeletal children on the brink of death, so hungry they do not even have the energy to cry,” says Grant Pritchard, Interim Country Director for Save the Children in Yemen.

“We are helping pregnant women who have starved themselves to feed their families, forced to choose between the living and the unborn.

“And we are treating babies who have been sick since birth with diseases that are preventable and easily curable with the right medicines.”

Cutting off a lifeline

Yet, instead of allowing aid to get to those who so desperately need it, Saudi Arabia and its coalition allies are preventing the delivery of food and aid by sea.

Meanwhile, on the ground, warring parties are detaining aid workers and hampering humanitarian access.

“This crisis is not an act of nature,” continues Pritchard. “It is man-made. Food and aid are being used as weapons of war.”

The international community must do more

Save the Children is doing everything we can to get aid to those who need our help. But, right now, the odds are stacked against us.

“We have had three shipments of life-saving medical aid delayed by the coalition so far this year – and our field teams tell us children have died as a result,” Pritchard adds. “The international community must do more to make sure aid for Yemen gets where it needs to go.”

Both sides in this conflict have a lot to answer for. But even though our government knows one of its allies has blood on its hands, it’s still selling bombs to Saudi Arabia.

Tell the government to protect children and stop the sale of British weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Sign our petition to foreign secretary Boris Johnson now.


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