Yemeni children face deadly hunger and aid shortages as COVID-19 pandemic spreads – UNICEF

26th June 2020

Number of malnourished children could reach 2.4 million by end of year, a 20 per cent increase

SANA’A/ADEN/AMMAN, 26 June 2020 – Millions of children in Yemen could be pushed to ‘the brink of starvation’ due to huge shortfalls in humanitarian aid funding amid the COVID-19 pandemic – according to a new UNICEF report marking more than five years since conflict escalated in the country.

Yemen five years on: Children, conflict and COVID-19 warns that as Yemen’s devastated health system and infrastructure struggle to cope with coronavirus, the already dire situation for children is likely to deteriorate considerably. The report shows that:

“We cannot overstate the scale of this emergency as children, in what is already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, battle for survival as COVID-19 takes hold,” said Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UNICEF Representative to Yemen. “If we do not receive urgent funding, children will be pushed to the brink of starvation and many will die. The international community will be sending a message that the lives of children in a nation devastated by conflict, disease and economic collapse, simply do not matter.”

The report warns that unless US$54.5 million is received for health and nutrition services by the end of August:

The report also highlights that crucial water and sanitation services for three million children and their communities will begin to shut down from the end of July, unless US$45 million is secured. This will further negatively impact the more than two million exceptionally vulnerable malnourished children, risking a disastrous decline in their nutrition status if aid supplies are interrupted.

In total UNICEF is appealing for US$461 million for its humanitarian response in Yemen, with an additional US$53 million for its COVID-19 response alone.  So far, the COVID appeal is only ten per cent funded and the humanitarian appeal is only 39 per cent funded.

UNICEF is working with the World Health Organization and the authorities across Yemen to get life-saving aid to children in desperate need, including:

“UNICEF is working around the clock in incredibly difficult situations to get aid to children in desperate need, but we only have a fraction of the funding required to do this,” said Nyanti. “Children in Yemen need lasting peace and stability in their country. Until that is achieved, we must do everything we can to save lives and protect childhoods.”

Read more about our work for children in Yemen.

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Notes to Editors:

Full report and multimedia materials available here

* The modelling on children under the age of five who could die from preventable causes referred to in the press release is based on the following study by The Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University (JHU): Robertson, Timothy, et al., ‘Early estimates of the indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on maternal and child mortality in low-income and middle-income countries: a modelling study’, The Lancet Global Health, May 2020, <https://doi.org/10.1016/ S2214-109X(20)30229-1>, Accessed 26 May 2020.

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For more information about UNICEF Yemen’s work for children visit www.unicef.org/yemen

For more information, please contact:
Aedín Donnelly, Communications Manager, UNICEF Ireland, aedin@unicef.ie, +353 85 1395272

Bismarck Swangin UNICEF Yemen, bswangin@unicef.org, +967-712223161

Harriet Dwyer, UNICEF Yemen, hdwyer@unicef.org, +44 79 43 90 9210

Juliette Touma, UNICEF Middle East and North Africa Regional Office, jtouma@unicef.org, +962-798 674 628

Joe English, UNICEF New York, jenglish@unicef,org +1 917 8930692