A family in Yemen has married off their three-year-old daughter in exchange for food and shelter, international charity Oxfam warned yesterday.
“Conflict, rising food prices and plummeting incomes in Yemen are forcing people to resort to desperate measures to stave off hunger,” Oxfam said in a press release.
“Since the escalation in conflict in 2015, food prices in Yemen have soared while household incomes have plummeted, pushing the costs of basic foods beyond the reach of many,” the statement said.
The warning comes as rich countries meet in the Swiss city of Geneva to pledge aid for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen which has left almost ten million people one step away from famine.
“Oxfam spoke to families in Amran governorate in the North who, hungry and isolated after fleeing their homes, have been forced to marry off their daughters – in one case as young as three years old – to buy food and shelter to save the rest of the family,” the organisation said in its statement.
Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director Muhsin Siddiquey said: “As this war has gone on, people’s means of coping with devastating levels of hunger have become more and more desperate. They’re being forced to take steps that blight their children’s lives now and for decades to come. This is a direct result of a man-made humanitarian catastrophe caused by the conflict.”
Just over a week ago, Yemen’s internationally recognised government and the Houthis agreed on the first phase of a withdrawal from the key port city of Hudaydah, following talks between the parties in Sweden in December. Reaching the agreement has been slow and it’s not yet clear what, if any, impact it will have.