Hugh Macleod / IRIN/Creative Commons
Reuters reported last week on one of the many tens of thousands of preventable deaths in Yemen:
Saleh al-Faqeh held the wasted arm of his baby girl as she took her last breath on Thursday at the malnutrition ward of the main hospital in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa.
Four-month-old Hajar al-Faqeh reached the al-Sabeen hospital last week from Saada province, one of thousands of Yemeni children suffering from malnutrition in a country that has been pushed to the brink of famine by more than three years of war.
Her body lies in the same ward where another baby boy, Mohammed Hashem, died from severe hunger on the same day.
A Yemeni child dies from preventable causes every ten minutes. Opponents of the war cite this statistic frequently to convey how desperate the situation is, but it fails to capture just how horrific the conditions are for more than eleven million children and millions of adults in Yemen who are hanging on by a thread. These eleven million children in Yemen represent 80% of the country’s under-18 population, and according to UNICEF they are “facing the threat of food shortages, disease, displacement and acute lack of access to basic social services.” This is a generation that has been ravaged by war, pestilence, and famine, and the health and development of the vast majority of Yemen’s children will be seriously compromised long after the fighting stops. As large and staggering as the numbers of malnourished and starving people in Yemen are, they are inadequate measures of the harm that has been done to an entire people during three and a half years of senseless, unnecessary war.
Half of Yemen’s health care facilities are no longer functioning because they have been damaged or destroyed or because there are no longer resources to run them. The enormous needs of the civilian population are overwhelming the facilities that remain:
United Nations food chief David Beasley spotted a tiny foot sticking out from under a blanket in a hospital in Yemen that has been overwhelmed with malnourished children, so he tried to bring a smile to the face of the small patient.