As of March 2021, The World Food Programme came to the conclusion that if the Saudi-led blockade in Yemen continues to proceed at the rate it is going, 400,000 Yemeni children below the age of five could die due to malnutrition before the end of the year. This is a much greater jump since 85,000 children died in 2018. UNICEF has described the situation in Yemen as the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, especially since the country ranks second in the highest hunger scores in the world.
The country’s condition has triggered great anxiety for the future the past few years but change continues to be scarce as matters keep on descending into a state of chaos and misery. Back in 2018, the UN assessed Yemen’s conditions, labelling it as the worst famine the world has witnessed in the last 100 years since 13 million people were facing starvation at the time. This number has gradually increased up to the present.
The reason Yemen is facing such conflict is due to the Yemen Civil war. After the Saudi-led coalition and United States navy interfered and aggravated the situation, what was once an impoverished nation reached a point of complete breakdown. It has been reported that Saudi Arabia deliberately targeted means of food production, and purposefully obstructed every means of humanitarian help which came into the country. Additionally, Saudi airstrikes destroyed fishing boats, which were essential to the livelihood of Yemeni people, which actively left huge amounts of people unable to properly provide for their family. The Saudis are responsible for the bombing and destruction of farms, ports, food factories and businesses in order to aggravate and intensify the famine. Due to Saudi efforts, the economy of Yemen has halved, with more than 80% of Yemenis suffering below the poverty level. The deliberate collapse of workplaces and incomes has actively pushed food beyond the reach of people living in the country. Even 1,500 schools have been damaged or destroyed due to the nation’s conflict, depriving people of education or a means to escape day to day suffering.
UNICEF has reported 80% of the population, consisting of approximately 24 million people, are in desperate need of help, with one child dying every 10 minutes. The UN has openly spoken out against the Saudi Led coalition accusing them of war crimes while stating they have ‘a complete disregard for human life’.
Families, out of pure desperation, have started to resort to harmful coping mechanisms in order to avoid starvation, by significantly reducing the amount of food they consume and skipping meals in order to avoid the future threats of scarcity. Older people and parents tend to care more, and prioritize their children, starving themselves for the sake of loved ones. Some families have no choice but to resort to begging on the streets or selling their only assets in order to eat.
Women are considered to be even more disadvantaged from the dangerous levels of food insecurity since they take on traditional nurturing roles, in which they eat last as to give priority to their children and other family members. Three million women and girls are at risk of gender-based violence. Moreover, violence against women has increased dramatically by more than 63% just over the course of the last two years. In addition, early marriages, which were already a huge issue in Yemen, have escalated since they are a means to reduce the number of people families have to feed. Action needs to be taken to alleviate the misery Yemeni people are having to endure, especially for the protection of women and children.
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