The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced on Friday that the number of children suffering from malnutrition in Yemen may rise to 2.4 million by the end of the year, due to the severe shortage in humanitarian aid funding.
A UNICEF report has warned of a 20 per cent increase in the number of malnourished children under the age of five, which is almost half of the number of children of that age group.
"If we don't receive urgent funding, children will be on the edge of starvation and many will die," expressed Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UNICEF representative in Yemen.
The UN has stated that it does not have enough funds to maintain the flow of aid. A donor conference collected half of the necessary funds this month. However, aid programmes affecting millions of people will be suspended in the coming weeks.
UNICEF is seeking $461 million for its humanitarian operations, only 39 per cent of which is currently funded, and $53 million to support prevention against COVID-19, only ten per cent of which is funded. Sanitation, immunisation and malnutrition programmes are at risk of closure.
The Yemeni health system is on the verge of collapse, but it has continued thanks to grants. Cholera, malaria and dengue fever have spread among the undernourished population even before the outbreak of the coronavirus.
UNICEF reported that some 7.8 million children are no longer in school, which exposes them to the risks of child labour, recruitment into armed groups and being forced into child marriage.
"UNICEF has previously stated and reiterated that Yemen is the worst place in the world for children, and that the situation is not improving," asserted Nyanti.