SANA’A, 21 May 2011- In cooperation with the UK department for International Development, UNICEF Yemen has delivered life-saving nutrition supplies to the governorate of Sa’ada, in northern Yemen. The three truckloads included life-saving therapeutic food Plumpy Nut, anthropometric scales, antibiotics, micronutrient supplements and other medication and equipment related to the management of acute malnutrition.
The supplies will cover the required treatment of 3000 children under the age of five suffering severe acute malnutrition. This figure represents about six percent of the total number of severely malnourished children in Sa’ada.
UK Minister of State for International Development, Alan Duncan said: “With some of the worse rates of malnutrition in the world, many children are suffering as a result of the humanitarian crisis in northern Yemen. British-funded supplies are now helping to save lives in Sa’ada, thanks to the delivery of this emergency aid, including medicine and food supplements. But the suffering here is extensive and established. That is why we have just confirmed additional British support for UNICEF to tackle malnutrition in tens of thousands more children affected by the conflict.”
The delivery is part of UNICEF Yemen’s emergency response plan, geared to provide all 15 districts in the conflict-ridden governorate of Sa’ada with malnutrition management services. The governorate has long suffered repeated bouts of armed conflict between government-backed and Al-Houthi armed groups, displacing more than 300,000 people, a large number of whom are school-aged children. The governorate has been inaccessible to humanitarian assistance for several years because of the conflict, and recorded some of the highest levels of acute malnutrition in the world. According to a nutritional survey conducted in 2010, about 45 percent of children under the age of five are acutely malnourished in some districts.
“The arrival of the convoy is a breakthrough for enhancing humanitarian space and ultimately for delivering the urgent assistance all children in conflict-affected Sa’ada require”, says UNICEF Yemen representative Geert Cappelaere. “The supplies will last for one to three months, so we must make sure a continual pipeline of life-saving supplies is secured”.
It is estimated that the supplies will help revive and boost the services of 29 health facilities in the governorate, which have been semi-operational since the recent outbreak of armed conflict. With DFID funding, UNICEF has previously helped train 130 health workers in outpatient therapeutic programmes, therapeutic feeding centres and outreach mobile clinics, kickstarting the delivery of malnourishment services in Sa’ada governorate. However an additional 300 health workers and 2,600 community health volunteers need to be trained to further boost the services in 95 health facilities throughout the governorate.
“Thanks to all involved parties, this life-saving corridor was now made possible”, says Cappelaere, “and with continued commitment of all, malnutrition can be eradicated. But this will require continued investment, commitment and capacity-building”.