A UK-based charity says more than 84,700 children under the age of five may have starved to death in Yemen since the Saudi regime and a coalition of its allies launched a brutal war on the already-impoverished nation over three years ago.
Using data compiled by the UN, Save the Children calculated in a Tuesday report the mortality rate for untreated cases of Severe Acute Malnutrition among Yemeni kids between April 2015 and October 2018.
“We are horrified that some 85,000 children in Yemen may have died because of extreme hunger since the war began. For every child killed by bombs and bullets, dozens are starving to death and it’s entirely preventable,” said Tamer Kirolos, the aid group’s Yemen director.
“Children who die in this way suffer immensely as their vital organ functions slow down and eventually stop… Parents are having to witness their children wasting away, unable to do anything about it,” Kirolos added.
He also noted that since the beginning of the Saudi-led offensive the charity has fed 140,000 Yemeni children and treated over 78,000 for malnutrition.
Elsewhere in its report, Save the Children complained that fighting and blockades have forced the group to bring vital supplies for northern Yemen through the port of Aden instead of Hudaydah, tripling the time for that aid to reach those in need.
It further raised concerns about a “dramatic increase” in Saudi air raids on Hudaydah in recent weeks and stepped-up fighting in the Yemeni provinces of Ta’izz, Sana’a and Sa’ada.
“In the past few weeks there have been hundreds of airstrikes in and around Hudaydah, endangering the lives of an estimated 150,000 children still trapped in the city. Save the Children is calling for an immediate end to the fighting so no more lives are lost,” Kirolos said.
According to the latest UN figures, up to 14 million Yemenis are at risk of famine and an estimated 400,000 children are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition in 2018.
Saudi Arabia and its allies unleashed the deadly military aggression against Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall the country’s former Riyadh-allied regime.
Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, which runs state affairs in Sana’a in the absence of an effective government, has been defending the nation against the Saudi aggression.
Back in June, the Saudi-led coalition launched an offensive on Hudaydah despite international warnings that it would compound the country’s humanitarian crisis. Hudaydah is the point of entry for 80 percent of the country’s commercial imports and nearly all UN-supervised humanitarian aid.
The Saudi-led offensive, coupled with a naval blockade, has destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and led to famine in the import-dependent state.
Malnourished boy in ‘extremely bad’ situation
Meanwhile, the AFP reported on the dire conditions of a malnourished Yemeni boy as a case in point.
It released a video showing Ghazi Saleh, 10, being treated for acute malnutrition at al-Mudhafar Hospital in the city of Ta’izz.
The boy only weighs eight kilograms and can barely breathe.
“He has not eaten properly for a while now, and he ultimately reached this situation,” nurse Eman Ali said.
Sona Othman, head of nutrition at the hospital, said, “Ghazi’s case was extremely bad and it mirrors the deteriorating health situation of the country,” adding, “We receive such cases every day, and some of them are very terrible.”