UNHCR: “There are millions of people who are close to starvation” in Yemen.
In all the political woes of Yemen the ones paying the highest price are the most vulnerable. The uprising which has lasted for nearly a year has not done so without worsening the burden of an already poor nation. The humanitarian crisis in Yemen although talked about to some extent hasn’t been addressed with enough action on the ground. In parts of Yemen like Arhab, Abyan and Dammaj some of the families have had to flee their homes with hardly any possessions, becoming displaced and with no access to food or medical aid.
According to the UNICEF 60% of the displaced are children. The children are the most forgotten and yet the most affected, not only do they suffer from the trauma of violence experienced but are also in amidst a worsening humanitarian crisis. Oxfam and Islamic relief expressed their fears of a deteriorating situation as families survive on a diet of tea and bread.
UNICEF “The total number of children killed in Yemen since the beginning of the uprising in late January has reached 138 – Majority through live ammunition”
Areas worst affected
Yemen never started the uprising well off and even before it – thousands of people had no access to food, fuel or electricity. Even more in Yemen are now suffering because of the rising food prices and lack of fuel made worse due to the uprising; some areas are though worse than others.
Abyan: An estimated 91,000 have had to flee their homes because of the conflict; seeking refuge in schools in nearby Aden. The families are living in cramped schools in dire conditions and at one point IDP’s were solely relying on donations of residents. Almost one in five children are suffering from acute malnutrition – this is above the emergency levels recognised worldwide
Arhab: The conflict in Arhab has forced people to take shelter in caves with an estimated 9,500 people forced to flee from their homes’ due to indiscriminate shelling on the area.
Dammaj: Due to armed rebels the village of Dammaj was under siege affecting thousands of people. As all roads to medical centres were blocked and travel deemed unsafe, adding to all this the lack food and healthcare and aid workers unable to gain access; it meant people died of hunger or sickness. Organization for Childhood Protection reported at the beginning of December that there were Four known cases of children under five who had died of hunger since Houthi gunmen cut off access to Dammaj for more than a month. A number of new-borns had also died and one woman died after being in pain and in labour for six days. Three elderly men were also reported to have died as they were unable to get access to their necessary medication.
UNHCR “We are most concerned about the humanitarian situation which is very close to catastrophic,”
Expecting the worst for 2012
The situation in Yemen isn’t expected to get any better this year, as the UN estimates at least four million people will be affected by the crisis in Yemen in 2012 – and will need immediate humanitarian support. According to aid workers and UNHCR there’s been up to a 40 percent drop in 2011 of children who are no longer getting the necessary vaccines that prevent them from dying of simple illnesses like measles and polio. In an already poor nation where the rate of illiteracy is high and malnutrition rates were already higher than average before the up rise, action should be faster than it has been. There have been several appeals from various NGO’s for action to be taken while there’s still a chance to do so. It seems like an old record being played over and over again regarding the situation in Yemen, although people might be listening there – yet again seems to be no action.
As Naveed Hussain, a representative from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees stated “In Yemen there’s a new Somalia in the making,”
In the poorest least developed country in the Middle East, in which half of the population is under 18 – It is fair to say children bear the brunt of the worst. Below is a short video I made to raise awareness – not all pictures from 2011 uprising. (Some Graphic)
If you want to donate you can go through the Yemen Peace Project a trusted organization doing all they can to get help to the ground.
Further Articles To Read:
Children will need years to recover from conflict
In Yemen’s political crisis, children pay the highest price
Yemen: medical teams struggle to save lives amidst increasing violence
Internal Displacement Monitoring centre: Report
Yemen crisis to hit 4 mn people in 2012: UN