The head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, sounded the alarm after visiting the impoverished country, which has been under ceaseless strikes by a Saudi-led military coalition during the past six years.
Beasley said he had seen malnourished children on the brink of death when he visited a ward in a hospital in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.
“In a children’s wing or ward of a hospital, you know you normally hear crying and laughter. [In the Yemeni hospital,] there’s no crying, there’s no laughter, there’s dead silence,” Beasley said late on Tuesday in a virtual interview with AP from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he had just landed from Yemen.
“I went from room to room, and literally, children that in any other place in the world would be fine– they might get a little sick but they’d get recovered, but not here,” the UN official said. “This is hell, it’s the worst place on earth. And it’s entirely man-made.”
Beasley also said that the underfunded WFP might be forced to seek hundreds of millions of dollars in private donations in a desperate attempt to ward off widespread famine in the coming months.
He said his organization needed at least $815 million in aid for Yemen over the next six months, but it currently has only $300 million. The UN official also stressed that the WFP would need another $1.9 billion to meet targets for the year.
“My God, I’m going to take any dollar I can get from anywhere in the world to save the life of a child right now,” Beasley said.
Backed by the US and a number of other Western states, Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the war on Yemen in March 2015 with the goal of suppressing a popular uprising that had toppled a Riyadh-friendly regime.
The Yemeni armed forces and allied popular groups have been defending the country against the aggressor regimes, but a full blockade on the country has compounded the humanitarian situation.
The Saudi-led war has taken a heavy toll on Yemen’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories.
According to the UN, 80 percent of Yemen’s 30 million people need some form of aid or protection. About 13.5 million Yemenis currently face acute food insecurity, UN data shows.
Children are among the most vulnerable victims of the Saudi war on Yemen, but the issue has barely drawn any international response.
The UN children’s agency warned in late June last year that the shortage of humanitarian assistance amid the coronavirus pandemic threatened to push more children in Yemen to the brink of starvation.
The UN describes Yemen as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.