A Humanitarian Crisis of Massive Proportions

Updated: Jun 28, 2020

By Michelle Jung, Communications Editor


Graphic by Senching Hsia, Graphics Editor

In the 21st century, we have experienced one of the worst humanitarian issues in the history of the world: the Yemeni Civil War. The United Nations found that around 24 million people in Yemen are in need of assistance and protection. Airstrikes funded by the Saudi Arabian government have ravaged civilians, causing high rates of malnourishment and economic collapse. The 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview for Yemen report demonstrated that 3.2 million people are currently in need of treatment for acute malnourishment. Specifically, 2 million children under the age of five and more than 1 million pregnant women are malnourished. During the past three years of the war, nearly 85,000 children under the age of five have died from malnourishment. According to Save the Children, “Based on historical studies, if acute malnutrition is left untreated, around 20-30% of the children will die each year… Children who die in this way suffer immensely as their vital organ functions slow down and eventually stop. Their immune systems are so weak they are more prone to infections, with some too frail to even cry.” To add to the existing problems caused by the crisis, a cholera outbreak broke out, affecting about 1.2 million people. The Yemeni civilians have had to face disease and malnourishment in addition to surviving the airstrikes and war.


Not many are aware of the hardships that the Yemenis are facing. According to Dr. Mekkia Mahdi, a doctor at the health clinic in Aslam, “We’re surprised the Khashoggi case is getting so much attention while millions of Yemeni children are suffering… Nobody gives a damn about them.” This political fight has caused a lot of collateral damage. It is heartbreaking to see many children suffer from the war, but it is even more heartbreaking to see Western society’s ignorance of these devastating impacts.


"Parents are having to witness their children wasting away, unable to do anything about it,” says Save the Children. The New York Times recently revealed a story about a couple in Yemen whose children have suffered through major malnutrition. “Ali al-Hajaji and his wife, Mohamediah Mohammed, lost one son to hunger. Now they fear to lose a second. When Shaher became ill, Mr. Hajaji tried a folk remedy and burned him, leaving scars on his chest.” The International Committee of the Red Cross reported, “More than half of the people have little access to basic health care, and less than 45% of the hospitals work and the health personnel cannot cope with the needs.” This is the reason for increasing concern: untreated and malnourished children continue to suffer and die each year as the war goes on.


References:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-46261983

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/26/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-war-yemen.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the-deadly-war-in-yemen-rages-on-so-why-does-the-death-toll-stand-still-/2018/08/02/e6d9ebca-9022-11e8-ae59-01880eac5f1d_story.html?utm_term=.00557b2ff075

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/yemen-war-death-toll-saudi-arabia-allies-how-many-killed-responsibility-a8603326.html

https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/02/1032811

https://www.lawfareblog.com/when-did-war-yemen-begin

https://www.icrc.org/en/where-we-work/middle-east/yemen/health-crisis-yemen

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