The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned Friday that millions of children face increased risks of malnutrition in Yemen if funds are not urgently allocated to this war-torn country, where a child dies every ten minutes.
The UN agency said in a statement that among the 11 million children in need of humanitarian assistance in Yemen, “more than 540,000 children under the age of five suffer from acute, life-threatening malnutrition.”
“A child dies (on average) every ten minutes from preventable causes,” she added.
The organization said that it “urgently needs $ 484 million” in 2023 to continue its intervention in this country, which is the poorest in the Arabian Peninsula and has been devastated by more than eight years of war.
She warned that without urgent action, “millions of children could face increased risks” of malnutrition. And she stressed that “if the money does not arrive, UNICEF may have to reduce its vital assistance to vulnerable children.”
At the end of February, donor countries pledged $1.2 billion to the people of Yemen, to the dismay of humanitarian relief organizations, which were asking for more than $4 billion.
According to the United Nations, more than 21.7 million people (two-thirds of the population) need humanitarian assistance this year.
Yemen has witnessed a bloody conflict since 2014 between forces loyal to the internationally recognized government and the Houthi rebels. The conflict escalated with the intervention of Saudi Arabia at the head of a military coalition in March 2015 to stop the Houthis’ advance after they took control of the capital, Sana’a.
Since then, the conflict has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis and caused a humanitarian crisis that the United Nations described as the worst in the world, with the displacement of millions of people.
According to UNICEF, more than 11,000 children have been killed or maimed. The United Nations and aid organizations, which lack funds, regularly warn of widespread famine in the country.
In early October, a truce mediated by the United Nations ended in April 2022, without the parties to the conflict reaching an agreement to extend it. But the situation remained relatively calm on the ground.