Yemen is now classified as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, described by the UN as being “on the brink of famine”. Yemen is listed as the worst-affected country facing potential famine, where more than 7 million people require emergency food assistance.
When I was in Yemen last August, I’ll never forget the looks on the parents’ faces. They were so ashamed and embarrassed — unable to afford the most basic food for their children who now lay in hospital on the verge of death, some with their stomachs bloated and others with their tiny ribs sticking out.
Seventeen-month-old Eissa’s mum sat on the bed holding her lifeless son, tears streaming out of her eyes. We went back to that hospital the next day. Eissa’s bed was empty. He had died overnight.
It’s hard to believe the situation in Yemen has gotten so much worse since then. The UN says there are more than 460,000 children like Eissa who are currently suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
“While Yemen is being starved or is starving, there is nothing really that is actually taking place to actually fix it,” said Jamie McGoldrick, the UN’s top aid official in Yemen. “What we are facing is a generation of young kids who are going to be stunted. They are never going to reach their full potential physically and intellectually, because of the importance of those early years and the right nutrition.”
The plight of children starving to death in Yemen was first reported around March last year. The world knows this is happening but is refusing to act and is choosing to ignore what is happening.