By YN Staff
Yemen has had massive food security problems for years. The list goes on forever: lack of water, productive land used to grow Qat – the narcotic plant people here chew daily – instead of food, economic dysfunction, and a population explosion. They were always leading to disaster.
Violence and chaos across Yemen since the country’s revolution started last February, has been the last straw for the Arab world’s poorest country. Such chaos reaches into the lives, and pockets, of poor, rural villagers. Electricity has been cut, roads closed, and as a result, employment levels have plummeted and access to basic service has decreased.
Dr Hanaa Aladini works at the Sabeen Mother and Child Hospital in Sana’a, and was keen to show us the children she is treating. She sees a constant trickle of such families come to her with the same tale: work has dried up for the father, and the hunger was too much for the youngest to bear. Her voice cracks when she speaks of the circumstances of the children, as emotion overcomes the privacy of the full face veil she wears.
Mohammed Al-Asaadi, Communication Officer at UNCIEF Yemen spoke to Al-Jazeera Arabic that the number of malnourished children in Yemen is dramatically increasing particularly on western and southern coastal areas. “Between 800,000 to 1 million children below 5-year old are suffering from malnutrition. This puts Yemen in a critical situation with a new generation that most likely will suffer from lifelong physical and/or cognitive impairment if no action is taken now,” said Al-Asaadi.
Around 120,000 children are expected to face death between now and the end of 2012 if the world remains watching the alarming malnutrition rates in Yemen. It is in some areas double the global emergency threshold.
“The main challenges,” said Al-Asaadi, ”include the limited capacity of health facilities, human resources,, poor infrastructure, the economic crisis of Yemen among other things. “
The financial resources represent a challenge as well. UNICEF has requested about $50 million to respond to the emergencies, about $16millions is planned to respond to combat malnutrition,” said Al-Asaadi.