2.4 mn children face hunger and aid shortages in Yemen amid COVID-19: UNICEF

(Source: @UNICEF)

New Delhi (NVI): Approximately 2.4 million children under the age of 5 in Yemen were pushed to face hunger and malnutrition due to huge shortfalls in humanitarian aid funding amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new UNICEF report.

In an official statement, UNICEF said that in the next six months, an additional 30,000 children could develop life-threatening severe acute malnutrition and the overall number of malnourished children under the age of five could increase to a total of 2.4 million.

A report by the organization stated that, after five years of war in the country, Yemen’s devastated health system and infrastructure struggles to cope with coronavirus pandemic, the already serious situation for children is likely to deteriorate considerably.

Furthermore, the health system is teetering closer to collapsing. After years of conflict, only half of health facilities are operational, with huge shortages in medicine, equipment and staff.

Around 9.58 million children do not have sufficient access to safe water, sanitation, or hygiene and this poor access to water and sanitation is stoking the spread of COVID-19, as per the report.

Besides, the United Nations recorded 3,467 children, some as young as 10-year-old, recruited and used by armed forces and groups over the last five years and with schools closed, 7.8 million children are not able to access education in the country.

“If we do not receive urgent funding, children will be pushed to the brink of starvation and many will die. The international community will be sending a message that the lives of children in a nation devastated by conflict, disease and economic collapse, simply do not matter,” said Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UNICEF Representative to Yemen.

“We cannot overstate the scale of this emergency as children, in what is already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, battle for survival as COVID-19 takes hold,” Nyanti said.

UNICEF is appealing for aid worth USD 461 million for its humanitarian response in Yemen, with an additional USD 53 million for its COVID-19 response alone. It said that, so far UNICEF has received just 10 per cent of the funds required for the COVID-19 response and around 39 percent of the humanitarian aid funding.

However, UNICEF is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the authorities across Yemen to get life-saving aid to children in desperate need.

Nyanti also said that, “UNICEF is working around the clock in incredibly difficult situations to get aid to children in desperate need, but we only have a fraction of the funding required to do this. Children in Yemen need lasting peace and stability in their country,” she added