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Life a 'waking nightmare' for 12 million children in Yemen, UNICEF Chief says

December 12, 2020 at 2:48 pm

A Yemeni woman mourns in a hospital after Houthis carried out artillery attack in Taiz, Yemen on November 30, 2020 [Abdulnasser Alseddik/Anadolu Agency]

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore announced on Thursday that Yemen is the most dangerous place on earth for children, stressing that: “Yemen is teetering on the edge of complete collapse.”

During her virtual participation in the “Averting famine in Yemen: What can we do now and in 2021?” event, she said: “Over 80 per cent of people require urgent humanitarian assistance and protection. Including 12 million children, whose lives are a waking nightmare.”

Fore added: “It is perhaps the most dangerous place on earth to be a child. One child dies every ten minutes from a preventable disease. Two million are out of school. And thousands have been killed, maimed, or recruited since 2015. Just last week, 11 were reportedly killed, including a one-month-old baby.”

Fore stressed: “The situation on the ground is a tangle of crises – any one of which would bring a country to its knees. Conflicts across 49 frontlines – up from 36 in just one year. An economy in tatters – families can no longer cope.”

“Support systems and infrastructure – from hospitals and schools to water and sanitation systems – on the brink of collapse. A COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the country. Through all of this, our humanitarian teams are facing fighting, blockades, and bureaucratic hurdles to reach the millions who need our help.”

OPINION: Yemen is teetering on the edge of total destruction

She continued: “And now, despite repeated warnings, the country is facing a nutrition crisis. 2.1 million children are acutely malnourished – and almost 358,000 severely malnourished. We believe famine-like conditions have already begun for some children.”

The UNICEF official reiterated: “These are not just numbers on a page. These are millions of individual tragedies. Millions of blighted futures. And millions of parents making the gut-wrenching choice between food and medical care for their children.”

Giving an example, she indicated: “Last Friday, from an ICU bed in Hodeida, an eight-year-old girl named Zahra begged UNICEF and her medical team to let her go home. She explained that her father couldn’t afford both food and medical expenses. A choice no parent should have to make.”

“As the world watches, an entire country and its people are being deprived of the basics of life.”

Fore explained: “Our teams are doing all we can, but the needs are growing faster than we can respond,” emphasising the need for urgent political action.

Concluding her speech at the event, Fore expressed: “2020 will be remembered not only for COVID-19 – but as a year in which we failed the children of Yemen once again. We must not make the same mistake in 2021.”

Deaths in Yemen Conflict - Cartoon [Sarwar Ahmed/MiddleEastMonitor]

Deaths in Yemen Conflict – Cartoon [Sarwar Ahmed/MiddleEastMonitor]