Over 5m children risk famine in war-torn Yemen as prices surge

AFP
Children warned yesterday an entire generation may face death and "starvation on an unprecedented scale."
AFP

More than 5 million children risk famine in war-torn Yemen as food and fuel prices soar, Save the Children said yesterday, warning an entire generation may face death and “starvation on an unprecedented scale.”

The three-year conflict between Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and Huthi rebels linked to Iran has pushed the already impoverished country to the brink of famine, leaving many unable to afford food and water.

“Millions of children don’t know when or if their next meal will come,” said Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International.

“This war risks killing an entire generation of Yemen’s children who face multiple threats, from bombs to hunger to preventable diseases like cholera.”

The already dire humanitarian situation is being exacerbated by the battle for the lifeline port of Hodeida, which is threatening to disrupt what little aid is trickling into the country.

Located on Yemen’s Red Sea coast, the city is controlled by the rebels and blockaded by Saudi Arabia and its allies.

Having already identified 4 million children at risk of starvation, Save The Children warned yesterday another million could now face famine as the Hodeida battle escalates.

“In one hospital I visited in north Yemen, the babies were too weak to cry, their bodies exhausted by hunger,” said Thorning-Schmidt.

Food prices in some parts of the country have doubled in just a few days, and the non-governmental organization said families faced impossible choices on whether to pay to take a baby to hospital at the expense of feeding the rest of the family.

A total of 5.2 million children across Yemen are now at risk of starvation, according to the Britain-based NGO.

The World Food Programme last year warned that food had become a “weapon of war” in Yemen, where fighting, cholera and looming famine have created what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The UN this week said food prices have surged 68 percent since 2015, when a regional military coalition led by Saudi Arabia joined the government’s war against the Huthi rebels.

The cost of a food basket, which contains pantry staples and canned goods, has increased by 35 percent and cooking gas and fuel prices by over 25 percent over the past year, said the UN humanitarian agency OCHA.

The UN has warned that any major fighting in Hodeida could halt food distribution to 8 million Yemenis dependent on them for survival. The country’s economy and population of 22 million people depend almost entirely on imports.

Special Reports
Top