Yemen conflict: A devastating toll for children
The conflict in Yemen has taken a devastating toll, particularly on the most vulnerable members of society: children.
Even before the outbreak of conflict in March 2015, Yemen faced challenges from widespread poverty, food insecurity and lack of health services. But now, with more than 2.2 million people displaced, food and fuel imports cut short and livelihoods destroyed, more than 70 percent of Yemenis are in need of some kind of humanitarian assistance.
Close to 4,000 civilians have died as a direct result of the conflict, including 1,332 children. Thousands more are wasting away because of deprivations caused by the conflict. UNICEF estimates that more than 460,000 children in Yemen face severe malnutrition, while 3.3 million children and pregnant or lactating women suffer from acute malnutrition. Even after the conflict ends, the effects of malnutrition – stunted growth and delayed cognitive development – may linger. In the worst cases, it is fatal.
The number of out-of-school children – already high before the conflict – has ballooned to 2 million as more than 350,000 additional children have been unable to attend school because of closures. Education for these children cannot wait.
The country’s water and sanitation infrastructure has also been ravaged, posing serious health risks. Restrictions on the importation of fuel have disrupted the delivery of water to millions of people in one of the most water-scarce countries on Earth. Fuel shortages have also curtailed access to health care, as hospitals are unable to power the generators they need to function.
On 6 October 2016, health authorities in Yemen confirmed a cholera outbreak, posing an increased health risk to the population – especially children – given the crumbling health system in the country.
UNICEF is working hard to alleviate the effects of the conflict on children and families by delivering lifesaving services and supplies, including health, nutrition and vaccination services for mothers, newborns and children; preparing for potential disease outbreaks; expanding treatment services for children with malnutrition; and supporting displaced families through provision of safe water and hygiene facilities.
UNICEF and its partners urgently need to secure funding. Yemen’s needs are great; to provide the most basic health, education and protection services in 2017, UNICEF requires $236.6 million.
Learn more about the humanitarian situation for children in Yemen