Over 5 million children in Yemen at risk of famine
by Save the Children, Reliefweb, NRC, agencies
15 Oct 2018
Yemen on brink of ''world''s worst famine in 100 years'' if war continues. (Guardian News)
UN warns that famine could overwhelm country in next three months, with 13 million people at risk of starvation.
Yemen could be facing the worst famine in 100 years if airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition are not halted, the UN has warned.
If war continues, famine could engulf the country in the next three months, with 12 to 13 million civilians at risk of starvation, according to Lise Grande, the agency’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen.
She told the BBC: “I think many of us felt as we went into the 21st century that it was unthinkable that we could see a famine like we saw in Ethiopia, that was just unacceptable.
“Many of us had the confidence that would never happen again and yet the reality is that in Yemen that is precisely what we are looking at.”
Yemen has been in the grip of a bloody civil war for three years after Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, seized much of the country, including the capital, Sana’a. The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the rebels since 2015 in support of the internationally recognised government.
Thousands of civilians have been caught in the middle, trapped by minefields and barrages of mortars and airstrikes. The resulting humanitarian catastrophe has seen at least 10,000 people killed and millions displaced.
Speaking on Sunday evening, Grande said: “There’s no question we should be ashamed, and we should, every day that we wake up, renew our commitment to do everything possible to help the people that are suffering and end the conflict.”
Her comments came after the UN and humanitarian workers condemned an airstrike in which the Saudi-led coalition targeted Yemen’s Shia rebels, killing at least 15 people near the port city of Hodeidah. Video footage showed the remains of a mangled minibus littered with groceries following the attack on Saturday, which left 20 others injured.
“The United Nations agencies working in Yemen unequivocally condemn the attack on civilians and extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims,” said Grande.
She added: “Under international humanitarian law, parties to the conflict are obliged to respect the principles of precaution, proportionality and distinction. Belligerents must do everything possible to protect civilians not hurt, maim, injure or kill them.”
Hodeidah, with its key port installations that bring in UN and other humanitarian aid, has become the centre of Yemen’s conflict, with ground troops allied to the coalition struggling to drive out the rebels controlling it.
The killing and maiming of civilians including many children in the Red Sea city of has soared in the last three months according to aid workers. Since June more than 170 people have been killed and at least 1,700 have been injured Hodeidah province, with more than 425,000 people forced to flee their homes.
A Gulf coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has been trying to wrestle back control of the strategic port city.
The ongoing conflict threatens to throw Yemen into outright famine.
Last month Save the Children warned the fighting was turning into a “war on children” with thousands suffering life-changing injuries in the attacks.
On a visit to Yemen the charity’s CEO, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, warned attacks on schools and hospitals were on the rise, with children on the frontline of violence and medics unable to cope with the influx of the wounded.
Meanwhile the country’s currency has collapsed and food prices have doubled in the last month, fuelling the threat of famine.
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/oct/15/yemen-on-brink-worst-famine-100-years-un http://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/attacks-kill-civilians-are-no-longer-anomaly-yemen-s-war http://reliefweb.int/country/yem
15 Oct 2018
Imminent famine in Yemen. (Norwegian Refugee Council)
Statement by Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council:
"Civilians in Yemen are not starving, they are being starved. Let it be known that the worst famine on our watch is wholly manmade by Yemen''s local conflict parties and their international sponsors.
Yemen has long been bombarded with airstrikes and subjected to strangling tactics of war. Mass starvation is a deadly byproduct of actions taken by warring parties and the western nations propping them up. The way the war is waged has systematically choked civilians by making less food available and affordable to millions of people.
Humanitarians are losing the battle against famine because the only way to reverse this fatal trend is a political solution to the current stalemate. It is still possible to avert a historical-scale famine if action is taken this month. It would be unforgivable if the US, UK, France and Iran do not demand the following:
First, an immediate ceasefire that includes an end to air-raids and shelling by all sides.
Second, agreement from warring factions to sit down at the table and agree on a political solution through UN mediation.
Third, the implementation of measures that will rapidly revive Yemen''s economy and allow the free flow of civilian imports and humanitarian aid into and across Yemen.
Parties to this conflict already have blood on their hands and now risk bearing responsibility for a famine affecting millions."
Sep. 19, 2018 (Save the Children)
An additional one million severely food insecure children in Yemen risk falling into famine as families struggle to afford basic food and transport to health facilities for treatment. This brings the total number of children in Yemen at risk of famine to 5.2 million. Already, more than two-thirds (64.5 per cent) of Yemen’s population don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
As Hodeidah experiences renewed fighting there is a real risk its port – a vital lifeline for goods and aid for 80 per cent of Yemen’s population – could be damaged or temporarily closed, reducing the supply of available of food and fuel as well as driving up prices even further. This would put the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in immediate danger while pushing millions more into famine. The United Nations has warned that failure to keep food, fuel and aid flowing into Yemen, particularly through Hodeidah, could result in one of the worst hunger crises in living history.
A depreciating currency and collapsing economy are pushing communities to the brink of starvation.
Food prices are up by an average of 68 per cent since 2015. The Yemeni Rial (YER) has depreciated nearly 180 per cent in the same period. It now costs 600 YER to buy one US dollar, up from 215 YER when the conflict escalated more than three years ago. The price of fuel commodities like petrol, diesel and cooking gas has increased by 25 per cent between November last year and September 2018. The price of food has doubled in some parts of the country in just a matter of days.
Though there are food supplies in the marketplace for now, families are unable to afford even the most basic items like bread, milk or eggs, making an already precarious situation even worse. Our teams have heard that some households are being forced to make impossible choices like deciding to take a malnourished baby to hospital at the expense of feeding the rest of the family.
Dr Ali, Save the Children’s Nutrition Adviser in Amran, Yemen, said:
“I’ve noticed people’s deteriorating financial situation as it’s very common that parents don’t bring their children to health facilities to get treatment, simply because they can’t afford the transport costs. People haven’t received salaries for years and they don’t have another source of income, so they simply don’t have the money to get their children to hospital.”
A recent UN survey of 2,098 respondents across Yemen confirms the extent of the problem. An alarming 98 per cent of households said food was their primary expenditure. Equally alarming, 93 per cent named high commodity prices as their primary challenge, including food and fuel, while 72 per cent of households said they’re cutting down on food consumption to cope with a lack of income.
Nutrition surveys conducted during the first half of 2018 confirm alarming rates of malnutrition. In Hodeidah for example, home to Yemen’s largest commercial port and the primary gateway for food and fuel to the rest of the country, one in every twenty children under five years is suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Half of all children in Yemen are stunted.
Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International, said:
“The nutrition crisis in Yemen has serious implications. Millions of children don’t know when or if their next meal will come. In one hospital I visited in north Yemen, the babies were too weak to cry, their bodies exhausted by hunger. This could be any hospital in Yemen.
Severely malnourished children are 12 times more likely to die from preventable diseases like pneumonia, measles, cholera or diphtheria. Children who are stunted suffer physical and often irreversible long-term cognitive damage. It’s essential that children get the food they need to survive and thrive.”
What happens in Hodeidah has a direct impact on children and families right across Yemen. Even the smallest disruption to food, fuel and aid supplies through its vital port could mean death for hundreds of thousands of malnourished children unable to get the food they need to stay alive. It could drive up the price of fuel – and as a result transport – to such an extent that families can’t even afford to take their sick children to hospital.
“This war risks killing an entire generation of Yemen’s children who face multiple threats, from bombs to hunger to preventable diseases like cholera. All parties must agree a political solution to this conflict and give children hope of a brighter future. Let the immense suffering of children in Yemen end.”
The brutal conflict in Yemen means communities across the country face huge barriers that prevent them from seeking care for their sick and undernourished children, including financial obstacles. The root causes of chronic and acute malnutrition and the factors leading to it are complex. But the current conflict creates conditions where malnutrition can take hold, exacerbated by poverty, lack of access to aid and low socioeconomic status. Women and girls and boys suffer disproportionately.
http://www.savethechildren.net/article/yemen-further-one-million-children-risk-famine-food-and-fuel-prices-soar-across-country http://www.actionagainsthunger.org/story/yemen-worlds-worst-humanitarian-crisis-worsens http://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/briefing-security-council-humanitarian-situation-yemen-under-secretary-general http://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/currency-crisis-yemen-driving-millions-people-one-step-closer-famine-enar
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The Return of Famine
by Alex de Waal, World Peace Foundation
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
Famine is an age-old scourge that almost disappeared in our lifetime. On the basis of our relevant scholarly and professional expertise, we, members of the faculty, staff and students of Tufts University, make the following declaration about the grave public ill that is famine, and our responsibility, as a university, a nation, and members of the international community, to end famine once and for all.
Between 2000 and 2011 there were no famines. Deaths in humanitarian emergencies have been much reduced. This progress is partly due to greater expertise in predicting, preventing, mitigating and responding to crises before they reach famine. International humanitarian law is stronger. Humanitarian lesson-learning is more robust. Over a generation, the humanitarian agenda was ascendant.
Yet famines have returned. In 2017, the United Nations identified four situations of acute food insecurity that threatened famine or breached that threshold—in north-eastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. Today Yemen is the most severe crisis. Several additional countries may also be at risk this year and next.
The return of famine has revived myths that must be debunked. Famine is not the product of drought or overpopulation; it is not particular to Africa; it is not just a severe version of hunger. Famines are multi-causal; they occur when different kinds of adversity combine to create a vortex of calamity: agro-climatic, economic, conflict- and governance-related, and increasingly, failures of states and international actors to intervene in a timely manner. Even while global indicators for poverty, hunger, nutrition and health are improving, for some populations matters are worsening.
Above all, political choices have driven famine’s re-emergence in this century. Some famines derive from intentional political and military decisions, while others are allowed to develop because the most powerful actors have other priorities, such as security, that overrule an effective response.
Every famine today is occurring in the context of armed conflict. Indeed, all result from military actions and exclusionary, authoritarian politics conducted without regard to the wellbeing or even the survival of people. Violations of international humanitarian law including blockading ports, attacks on health facilities, violence against humanitarian workers, and obstruction of relief aid are all carried out with a sense of renewed impunity. Famines strike when accountability fails.
Addressing this demands a new infusion of resources and energy, to ensure that there is sufficient political will to end the political and military practices that cause famine.
At a time when more authoritarian, militaristic, xenophobic and cynically self-interested politics are on the rise, we must defend the humanitarian imperative and the right of life and dignity.
Our ultimate goal is to render mass starvation so morally toxic, that it is universally publicly vilified. Because mass starvation demonstratively can be ended, it cannot be tolerated. We aim to make mass starvation unthinkable, such that leaders in a position to inflict it or fail to prevent it will unhesitatingly ensure that it does not occur, and the public will demand this of them.
* A conference On the Return of Famine held at Tufts University in May brought together faculty and researchers from across the University, in conversation with outside experts. Panels addressed why famine has returned, today’s humanitarian challenges, legal and political issues related to criminalizing famine, and the most pressing famine of today, Yemen. Watch videos of panelists’ presentations at the May conference via the link below: http://bit.ly/2KyJfZi http://hilalelver.org/media_coverage/famine-watch/
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