People's Stories Human Rights Today

Ravaged by Ebola and war, Congo named most neglected crisis of 2018
by IRIN News, IRC, ACAPS, agencies
Jan. 2019
Ten humanitarian crises and trends to watch in 2019. (IRIN News)
1. Climate displacement: Tomorrow’s emergencies today
From rising sea levels to withering drought and unpredictable weather: projections for what the world can expect if climate change remains unchecked are grave.
Yet extreme weather is already uprooting populations around the globe, and the aid sector and governments are struggling to cope. Vulnerable communities have long known what the aid sector is just beginning to articulate: climate change is a humanitarian issue, and its fingerprints are already evident in today’s most pressing emergencies.
2. Syria: It’s not over ‘til it’s over
A win by President Bashar al-Assad is increasingly seen as a fait accompli, but with large parts of the country still controlled by rebels and others seemingly up for grabs, the fighting isn’t finished, nor are attempts to influence the aid effort.
3. Outsourcing risk: Local responders shoulder the danger
In insecure areas with limited access, many international aid organisations subcontract donor-funded programmes to local groups – “remote management” in industry jargon. But aid analysts say this increasingly widespread strategy carries ethical and moral quandaries.
4. Ethiopia: Gambling on reforms
Loosening a political straitjacket on 105 million people and weakening central control at the same time: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s moves could be the biggest relaxation of state control – and the least predictable humanitarian planning scenario – since the death of Ethiopia’s Emperor Menelik in 1913. In a country whose poorest have little room for error, his experiment is a high-stakes gamble that could backfire and cause less welcome upheavals.
5. Returning refugees: The meaning of ‘voluntary’
Pressure is building on millions of vulnerable people to return to dangerous homelands, with 2019 shaping up as a pivotal year for the world’s four largest refugee crises. Between them, Syrians, Afghans, South Sudanese, and Myanmar’s Rohingya account for well over half the world’s refugees, not to mention an almost equal number of internally displaced people.
6. Infectious diseases: Healthcare as a casualty of crisis
Countries experiencing humanitarian crises are seeing the re-emergence of previously forgotten diseases; for example, diphtheria, which took a toll on Yemenis, Venezuelans, and Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh in 2018. And political and structural challenges in some of the world’s least developed countries are fostering rich environments for many other diseases to thrive: cholera, Ebola, malaria, measles, MERS, yellow fever, and Zika.
7. South Sudan and Congo: Politics versus peace
2019 is a political year of promise for the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan: the reason we’ve grouped them together. While the world watches to see if the DRC can achieve a first peaceful transfer of democratic power and if a fledgling peace deal in South Sudan will hold, how both situations develop also carries major implications for millions of people in need of assistance.
8. Anti-terror compliance: When aid falls foul of the law
It’s getting harder to stay on the right side of counter-terrorism legislation, NGOs say. That means more vulnerable people could be left without the aid they and their families depend on. And the penalties for the wrong type of engagement with sanctioned groups can be very costly, as the NGO Norwegian People’s Aid found.
9. Militancy in Africa: Weak governments struggle, civilians suffer
Violent jihadism continues to gain ground in Africa, representing a serious trial for weak and neglectful governments, and driving up humanitarian needs for civilians.
10. Yemen: Risk of fragmenting conflict
Yemen’s main warring parties are finally talking, and even shaking hands. But even if the 45- month war ends – and that’s a big if – the country could easily slide into a series of local conflicts, bringing little respite for the 24 million civilians the UN says need some sort of aid, be it food, clean water, or shelter.
Dec. 2018
Ravaged by Ebola and war, Congo named most neglected crisis of 2018. (Reuters)
With an Ebola epidemic raging and millions caught in a forgotten "catastrophe" of conflict and hunger, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was the most neglected crisis of 2018, according to an annual Thomson Reuters Foundation poll of aid agencies.
This year''s survey was unusual for the high number of "most forgotten crises", with experts also listing the Central African Republic, Lake Chad Basin, Yemen, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Burundi, Nigeria and, for the first time, Venezuela.
But Congo''s "mega-crisis" barely made headlines, they said, even as the country gears up for landmark elections which some fear could stoke further unrest.
"The brutality of the conflict is shocking, the national and international neglect outrageous," said Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council. "I visited Congo this year and have seldom witnessed such a gap between needs and assistance."
Congo, where 13 million people in a population of 82 million need help, also topped the annual Thomson Reuters Foundation poll in 2017, but agencies said the situation had deteriorated.
Six of 21 agencies polled named Congo as the most neglected crisis, including WFP, Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, ActionAid, International Rescue Committee, and Christian Aid.
ActionAid''s humanitarian advisor Rachid Boumnijel urged the international community to redouble efforts to end years of conflict characterised by sexual brutality.
"It''s been a catastrophe for the country, and for women and girls particularly," Boumnijel said.
Christian Aid''s head of humanitarian programmes Maurice Onyango said the violence had caused "large-scale trauma", with children witnessing parents and siblings being murdered.
An upsurge of fighting in the east of the mineral-rich country has also exacerbated the spread of the world''s second largest Ebola outbreak, agencies said.
The Central African Republic, where armed groups control much of the country and 60 percent of the population needs assistance, came a close second in the poll.
Listed as the most neglected by OCHA, UNICEF, Mercy Corps, Plan International, and Caritas, the country has been racked by violence since mainly Muslim rebels ousted the president in 2013, provoking a backlash from Christian militias.
Armed groups are increasingly targeting schools, hospitals, mosques and churches, while attacks on aid workers have impacted a "chronically underfunded" humanitarian response, they said.
U.N. children''s agency UNICEF said thousands of children had been trapped in armed groups or subjected to sexual violence.
"The crisis is growing increasingly desperate and resources are at breaking point," added UNICEF emergencies director Manuel Fontaine.
U.N. appeals for both DRC and CAR are less than 50 percent funded.
"Central African Republic is in a death spiral," said Caritas Secretary General Michel Roy. "While governments and the world''s media have turned their backs, we must not. It''s the only hope CAR has left."
Plan International said the media neglected complex crises like CAR and DRC because they lacked the shock factor of a sudden disaster like Indonesia''s huge earthquake in September.
Yemen, at risk of the world''s worst famine in 100 years, was highlighted by Muslim Hands and World Vision.
"With three quarters of the population needing assistance, I can''t see how Yemen isn''t at the top of everyone''s list," said World Vision emergencies chief Mark Smith.
International Medical Corps warned the disaster in Lake Chad basin, where climate change and a prolonged insurgency by Boko Haram and Islamic State have left 11 million needing help, was also set to worsen next year.
Action Against Hunger said millions caught up in the "almost invisible" crisis - affecting Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon - faced poverty, hunger, sexual violence and child kidnapping.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the world''s biggest relief network, said hunger and disease following major flooding across Nigeria threatened to create a second protracted crisis in the country.
"I''m shocked by how little attention this has received. The figures are staggering," said IFRC Secretary General Elhadj As Sy, adding that nearly 2 million people were impacted, more than 200,000 uprooted and swathes of cropland destroyed. "This massive disaster has gone largely unnoticed by many donors and journalists," he added.
This year was the first time Venezuela featured in the poll. About 3.3 million people have fled political turmoil and economic meltdown in the Latin American country - many driven by hunger and another 2 million could follow next year, according to U.N. estimates.
The United Nations has launched a $738 million appeal to help nearby countries cope with what one U.N. official called a "humanitarian earthquake".
CARE said evidence on the ground suggested the real number fleeing was far higher than the U.N. figure. "Given its scale, it''s incredible how neglected the situation in Venezuela is," said CARE humanitarian expert Tom Newby. "The world needs to wake up to this crisis."
Afghanistan was ranked the most neglected crisis by Islamic Relief Worldwide, and South Sudan by Save the Children. The UNHCR named Burundi while migration was highlighted by the Danish Refugee Council.
* Aid agencies name their 3 priorities for 2019:
Dec. 2018 (ACAPS)
The 2019 Global risk analysis outlines 18 contexts where a significant deterioration is expected to occur within the next six to nine months, leading to a spike in humanitarian needs. This report comes as a result of ACAPS daily monitoring and independent analysis of the globe to support evidence-based decision-making in the humanitarian sector.
A risk is considered an event or series of events prompting a change from the status quo that leads to a significant deterioration in the humanitarian context and a higher number of people in need, or a higher severity of need. The crises identified in this report have been selected because there are certain triggers that may emerge over the coming six to nine months that point towards this potential shift.
Considering the diversity and complexity of the crises, combined with the number of contexts included in the report, it has not been possible to cover each crisis in detail. Instead, we have highlighted the broad evolution of the crises to flag potential deteriorations and inform operational, strategic, and policy decision-makers.
* Access the report (14pp):
* OCHA Global Humanitarian Overview 2019 (80pp):
* 2019 will be another year of crises, reports the Norwegian Refugee Council. In 2018, 68.5 million people were displaced by war and violent conflict. There is little evidence to suggest this number will decrease in 2019:

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Over 5 million children in Yemen at risk of famine
by OCHA, Unicef, Save the Children, NRC, agencies
19 Feb. 2019 (OCHA)
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is the worst in the world, driven by conflict, economic collapse and the continuous breakdown of public institutions and services.
1. After four years of continuous conflict, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is the worst in the world. A higher percentage of people face death, hunger and disease than in any other country. The degree of suffering is nearly unprecedented. Eighty percent of the entire population requires some form of humanitarian assistance and protection, an increase of 84 per cent since the conflict started in 2015. Twenty million Yemenis need help securing food and a staggering 14 million people are in acute humanitarian need.
2. Ten million people are one step away from famine and starvation. Two hundred and thirty of Yemen’s 333 districts are now food insecure. This includes 148 districts which are classified as phase 4 under the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) system, 45 districts with families in IPC phase 5, and 37 districts which have global acute malnutrition rates above 15 percent.
For the first time in Yemen, assessments confirm the presence of catastrophic levels of hunger. At least 65,000 people are already in advanced stages of extreme food deprivation and 238,000 people in districts with IPC 5 areas will face similar conditions if food assistance is disrupted for even a few days.
3. Seven million, four hundred thousand people, nearly a quarter of the entire population, are malnourished, many acutely so. Acute malnutrition rates exceed the WHO emergency threshold of 15 percent in five governorates and close to 30 percent of all districts record critical levels of malnutrition. Two million malnourished children under five and 1.1 million pregnant and lactating women require urgent treatment to survive.
4. Conditions are worsening at a nearly unprecedented rate. In 2014, prior to the conflict, 14.7 million people required assistance. In 2015, this number increased to 15.9 million; in 2016 to 21.2 million and in 2018 to 22.2 million. In 2019, 24.4 million people need assistance to survive. The number of severely food-insecure districts has risen by 60 percent in one year from 107 districts in 2018, to 190 in 2019. In the last 12 months, the number of people unable to predict when they will next eat has risen by 13 percent and is expected to increase by 20 percent or more unless humanitarian operations are dramatically expanded in the early months of 2019.
5. The severity of suffering is shocking. The number of civilians in acute humanitarian need across all sectors has risen 27 percent since last year. In the health sector, the number has risen 49 percent to 14 million. In the shelter sector, the number has increased 73 percent; in protection 26 percent and in education 32 percent. In every cluster, at least half of all the people in need are in acute need. Acute needs are highest in the conflict-impacted governorates of Hodeida, Sa’ada and Taizz, where more than 60 per cent of the population requires help to survive.
6. Every humanitarian sector and most, if not all parts of the country, are impacted by the conflict. In the health sector, 203 districts are classified as acute. Less than 50 per cent of health facilities across the country are fully functional and those which are operational lack specialists, equipment and medicines. Immunization coverage has decreased by 20-30 percent since the conflict started and most health personnel have not received salaries for two years, or more. In the shelter sector, 207 districts are now classified as acute.
In the water and sanitation sector, 167 districts are classified as acute, a four-fold increase since 2018. Only 22 percent of rural and 46 percent of urban populations are connected to partially functioning public water networks and less than 55 percent of the population has access to safe drinking water. In the education sector, 36 per cent of school-age girls and 24 per cent of boys do not attend school. Fifty one percent of teachers have not been paid since 2016, hundreds of schools have been destroyed and more than 1,500 have been damaged by air strikes or shelling.
Dec. 2018
Yemen''s food insecurity situation remains Dire, despite humanitarian assistance reports the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)
According to the latest IPC analysis, from December 2018 to January 2019, while accounting for the current levels of Humanitarian Food Assistance (HFA), 17% of the population analyzed (about 5 million people) are in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency) and 36% (about 10.8 million people) in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis). Of greatest concern are the 65,000 people in IPC Phase 5 (Catastrophe).
Overall, this constitutes 15.9 million or 53% of the total population. It is estimated that in the absence of HFA, about 20 million people or 67% of the total population (including Internally Displaced People - IDPs) would be in need of urgent action to save lives and livelihoods. This includes 240,000 people in IPC Phase 5 (Catastrophe), i.e. threefold the actual number.
Food insecurity is more severe in the areas with active fighting, and is particularly affecting IDPs and host families, marginalized groups, as well as landless wage labourers facing difficulties in accessing basic services and conducting livelihood activities. Overall, there are more than 3 million IDPs in Yemen who face comparatively worse food security outcomes.
In terms of severity (areas in IPC Phase 3+), the worst affected areas are located in Al Hudaydah, Amran, Hajjah, Taiz and Saada Governorates. In terms of magnitude (population in IPC Phase 3+), each of the governorates of Al Hudaydah, Amanat Al Asimah, Dhamar, Hajjah, Ibb and Taiz have more than one million people in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) and above, while 13 governorates without HFA would have populations experiencing catastrophic food gaps. They include; Abyan, Aden, Al Bayda, Al Dhaleé, Al Hudaydah, Al Mahwit, Amran, Hadramout, Hajjah, Ibb, Lahj, Saada and Taiz.
Armed conflict remains the main driver of food insecurity in Yemen, curtailing food access for both the displaced and the host communities. The food security crisis is further exacerbated by extremely high food prices, the liquidity crisis, disrupted livelihoods, and high levels of unemployment.
The large food gaps are only marginally mitigated by Humanitarian Food Assistance which is not adequate to reverse the continuous deterioration of the situation.
The ongoing conflict and the resultant economic crisis. Disrupted financial and economic access to food. High food prices. Reduced local food production. Access to low quality water and in diminishing quantities:
Nov. 2018 (UNICEF)
"Millions of desperate children and families across Yemen will soon be without food, clean water or sanitation services because of the deepening economic crisis and unrelenting violence in the port city of Hudaydah. The confluence of these two factors is likely to make the horrific reality facing children and families even worse as more and more war-weary people face the very real prospect of death and disease.
"The cost of food, fuel and water supplies has skyrocketed as the value of the national currency has plummeted.
"Water and sewage treatment services are at risk of collapse because of soaring fuel prices - meaning many of these same children and families may also be without access to safe water and sanitation. This in turn will lead to disease outbreaks and increased malnutrition - both of which, in combination with food insecurity, raise the risk of famine. An estimated 1.2 million more people will soon be in acute need of basic water and sanitation assistance, and the number is expected to climb in the coming days.
Families who can no longer afford basic food items could soon join the 18.5 million people who are already food insecure - a number projected to rise by 3.5 million, including nearly 1.8 million children.
"These conditions, devastating in their own right, are compounded by the situation in Hudaydah where violence threatens to kill children and choke off an essential supply chain of fuel and humanitarian aid that sustains 28 million Yemenis.
"If the port is attacked, damaged or blocked, an estimated 4 million more children will become food insecure throughout the country.
"The only way out of Yemen''s nightmare is to establish peace through a comprehensive political resolution. Until then, UNICEF continues its call on parties to the conflict and those who have influence over them to abide by their legal obligations to stop attacks against civilian infrastructure - including the port of Hudaydah - and guarantee safe, unconditional and sustained access to all children in need in Yemen."
“People in Yemen face two horrifying menaces: war and hunger. Civilians have paid the heaviest price for the conflict. Millions are displaced and millions go to bed hungry every night,” said Fabrizio Carboni, the ICRC’s regional director for the Near and Middle East.
An ICRC team in Hodeida this week spoke of dreadful living conditions for many thousands of displaced families who own only the clothes they wear and survive on a little rice or a thin mix of flour and water, if they find any food to eat at all.
The depreciation of the Riyal, reduced imports and difficulty of movement in the country have had alarming repercussions on the country’s already catastrophic humanitarian situation.
Indebted and vulnerable, millions across Yemen survive on one meal per day. “Every day many Yemeni families must choose between food and medicine,” Carboni said.
The cost of living has skyrocketed. Prices for flour, sugar, rice and milk have increased by 30 percent since last month and surpass the modest budgets of most Yemeni families, whose savings have been depleted by long years of conflict.
Clean water and medication are also a luxury in Yemen, where vital infrastructure is crumbling, a fact that has led to an increase in infectious diseases such as cholera and measles.
According to the World Food Programme 08.11.18: "Yemen is the largest hunger crisis in the world. Millions of people are living on the edge of famine and the situation is getting worse by the day".
Nov. 2018
Urgent need to reach hundreds of thousands of severely malnourished children before it’s too late, warns Save the Children
An estimated 85,000 children under five have died from extreme hunger or disease since the war in Yemen escalated, according to new analysis by Save the Children.
Using data compiled by the UN, Save the Children evaluated mortality rates for untreated cases of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in children under five years. Using a conservative estimate, the humanitarian aid agency discovered that approximately 84,701 children with SAM may have died between April 2015 and October 2018.
After almost four years since the brutal conflict in Yemen escalated the UN says that up to 14 million people are at risk of famine. That number has increased dramatically since the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition imposed a month-long blockade of Yemen just over a year ago.
Since then, commercial imports of food through Hodeidah port have reduced by more than 55,000 metric tonnes a month. That’s enough to meet the needs of 4.4 million people, including 2.2 million children. Any further decline in imports could likely lead directly to famine.
Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s Country Director in Yemen, said: “We are horrified that some 85,000 children in Yemen may have died because of extreme hunger since the war began. For every child killed by bombs and bullets, dozens are starving to death and it’s entirely preventable.
“Children who die in this way suffer immensely as their vital organ functions slow down and eventually stop. Their immune systems are so weak they are more prone to infections with some too frail to even cry. Parents are having to witness their children wasting away, unable to do anything about it.
“Save the Children has provided food for 140,000 children and treated more than 78,000 children for malnutrition since the start of the crisis. Despite the challenges, we’re saving lives every day.”
Fighting, blockades and bureaucracy have forced Save the Children to bring vital supplies for the north of the country through the southern port of Aden. As a result, it can take up to three weeks for aid to reach people instead of the week it would take if Hodeidah port was fully operational.
Save the Children has also observed a dramatic increase in airstrikes on Hodeidah over recent weeks. Increased fighting has also been reported in Taiz, Saada and Sanaa.
Tamer Kirolos added: “In the past few weeks there have been hundreds of airstrikes in and around Hodeidah, endangering the lives of an estimated 150,000 children still trapped in the city. Save the Children is calling for an immediate end to the fighting so no more lives are lost.
“We urgently need to get high-nutrient foods to the most vulnerable children in Yemen, some of whom are truly on the brink. One child dying from starvation is one child too many.”
Oct 2018
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.
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.
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. 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.

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