STORY: Deteriorating situation for children in Yemen
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 19 Oct 2021, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
Another “shameful milestone” has been reached in the conflict in Yemen with 10,000 children killed or maimed since fighting started in March 2015, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday.
The number is the equivalent of four children every day, UNICEF spokesperson James Elder said. Urging all parties to the conflict to stop the fighting, he added that “ Yemen is the most difficult place in the world to be a child. And, incredulously, it is getting worse.”
Yemen’s humanitarian crisis is “the world’s worst” according to the UNICEF spokesperson who said that it “represents a tragic convergence of four threats: a violent and protracted conflict, economic devastation, social services on the brink of collapse, including health, nutrition, water sanitation, education, protection and a critically underfunded UN system”.
According to UNICEF, over 11 million children, (four in five) are in need of humanitarian assistance in Yemen; 400,000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition, more than two million children are out of school and two-thirds of teachers, (more than 170,000), have not received a regular salary for more than four years.
Some 1.7 million children are also now internally displaced and 15 million people (more than half of whom are children) do not have access to safe water, sanitation, or hygiene. “At current funding levels and without an end to the fighting, UNICEF simply cannot reach all these children. There's no way to say this simply without international support, more children, those who bear absolutely no responsibility for this conflict will die,” Mr. Elder warned.
UNICEF “urgently needs $235 million to continue its lifesaving work” until mid-2022, Mr. Elder said, while emphasizing that the organization has made a positive impact. It has supported the treatment of severe acute malnutrition in 4,000 primary health care facilities and 130 therapeutic feeding centres; provided emergency cash transfers to 1.5 million households every quarter, which has benefited around nine million people and it has provided safe drinking water to more than five million people. It has also delivered COVID vaccines through the UN-partnered COVAX initiative, provided psychosocial support, mine risk education and direct assistance for the most vulnerable children, and trained and deployed thousands of community health workers. This year alone it has helped 620,000 children access formal and non-formal education and provided vaccines for preventable diseases - including a polio campaign that reached more than five million children.
However, Mr. Elder reiterated the severity of the humanitarian situation in Yemen, where GDP has dropped by 40 per cent since 2015. “Huge numbers of people have lost their jobs, and those who are still working quite frequently go unpaid,” he said. Classrooms with up to 200 children are being taught by unpaid teachers, who are “turning up to those classrooms day after day.” The “bottom line” is that “children in Yemen are not starving because of a lack of food. They are starving because their families cannot afford food. They are starving because adults continue to wage a war in which children are the biggest losers”, he stated. Funding is critical and donor support is clearly in line with lives saved, Mr. Elder said. However, without more funding, UNICEF will have to stop or scale down its emergency assistance.