SANA'A, Yemen, 10 July 2012 – “Wouldn't you instinctively want to invest in hope more than horror?”
These were the words of UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake during his three-day visit to Yemen this week. Report by Alison Parker
7-9 July 2012: UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on the visit of UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake to Yemen. Photo © AlGhaberi
Yemen’s civil unrest over the last 17 months has left a heavy toll on the civilian population, especially children. The current crisis is taking place against a backdrop of near-economic collapse. Severe fuel and water shortages, combined with skyrocketing prices – particular for food and water – have been detrimental to children’s well-being. Massive efforts are now necessary to help children overcome the impact of these crises.
Even before the current unrest, which started in February 2011, Yemen was already in a state of chronic underdevelopment, with development indicators comparable to those of sub-Saharan African countries. As of January 2012, 340,000 people had been displaced by warfare in northern Yemen, and conflict in the south had placed children increasingly in the crossfire and displaced an additional 100,000 people.
One of the highest malnutrition rates
Yemen has one of the highest rates of chronic malnutrition in the world, with 58 per cent of children reported as stunted. Almost one million children are acutely malnourished, with about 267,000 suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
"In Yemen, there are over 250,000 children who suffer from severe, acute malnutrition, which means they could die very soon. This is almost as many as there were in Somalia during the height of the crisis last year," said Mr. Lake as he toured Al-Sabeen Hospital in Sana’a.
Read Alison's full report on the visit of UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake to Yemen on our blog.