UN: Millions of Yemeni children on the “brink of hunger” | Yemen News

Millions of children in Yemen are at risk of starvation amid the coronavirus pandemic, which is leading the war-torn nation to further devastation, the United Nations warned, calling for nearly $ 500 million in urgent humanitarian assistance.

In a new report released on Friday, UNICEF, the UN children’s fund, said the number of malnourished children in the country could reach 2.4 million, an increase of 20 percent, by the end of the year.

Another 6,600 children under the age of five could also die of preventable causes, as the pandemic has weakened the country’s health system and disrupted services.

“Countless childhoods have been lost in this five-year war, and we fear losing many more as COVID-19 spreads.” Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UNICEF Representative in Yemen, said in a statement.

“We cannot exaggerate the magnitude of this emergency when children, in what is already the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, fight for survival while COVID-19 takes hold,” he added.

“If we do not receive urgent funds, the children will be pushed to the brink of hunger and many will die.”

The UNICEF report says that almost 9.58 million children do not have sufficient access to clean water, sanitation or hygiene, which puts them at greater risk of infection, while 7.8 million do not have access to education in the midst of closing of schools.

‘Fall from the cliff’

Five years of war in Yemen have pitted the internationally recognized government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, against Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels.

As a result, the poorest nation in the Middle East has seen its economy decimated, leaving millions of unemployed and 80 percent of the country in need of humanitarian assistance. The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated the situation.

Officially, the internationally recognized government of Yemen has declared more than 900 cases of COVID-19 and more than 250 deaths, but the actual number is believed to be much higher.

At a closed meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday, UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock warned that many more people will starve, succumb to COVID-19, die of cholera, and watch their children die because they don’t have been immunized against deadly diseases.

He added that the coronavirus was spreading rapidly in Yemen and that about 25 percent of the country’s confirmed cases have died, “five times the world average.”

In a virtual donor conference on June 2, primarily Arab and Western countries pledged $ 1.35 billion for aid operations in Yemen, far less than the $ 2.4 billion the UN had asked for, and the $ 3.6 billion it received the UN last year.