Salwa Ibrahim, a 5-year-old girl suffering from acute malnutrition and weighing 3 kilograms, is measured at a treatment center in Yemen's northern Hajjah province on June 23, 2020. (Essa Ahmed/AFP via Getty Images)

Millions of Children Face Malnourishment in Yemen: UNICEF

Up to 2.4 million Yemeni children could be malnourished by the end of the year due to a lack of humanitarian funding, UNICEF said on Friday. A report by the United Nations children’s agency warned of a 20% rise in the number of malnourished children under age 5 – nearly half of the children in Yemen in that age group. UNICEF Yemen representative Sara Beysolow Nyanti said, “If we do not receive urgent funding, children will be pushed to the brink of starvation and many will die.” Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, largely a result of more than five years of war between a Saudi-led coalition that supports the internationally recognized government and the Iranian-backed Houthi movement, and compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, has left tens of thousands of people dead. Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, cholera, malaria and dengue were rife. And with 7.8 million children now out of school, many are at risk of being recruited to work, join one of the armed groups fighting in the war, or marry. “UNICEF has previously said, and again repeats, that Yemen is the worst place in the world to be a child and it is not getting any better,” Nyanti said. The UN has said it does not have enough funding to keep up with the country’s needs. Sanitation, immunization and malnutrition programs impacting millions are set to be reduced or close altogether in the coming weeks. UNICEF’s $461-million goal for its humanitarian response is only 39% met, and its $53-million budget to fight COVID-19 in the country is only 10% funded.

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