Yemen was already the Middle East’s poorest country - a place where children were 12 times more likely to die before their fifth birthdays than in Australia. Then, in March 2015, violence escalated into a brutal war that has plunged most of the country’s children into crisis.
Conflict left the southern cities of Aden and Taiz in ruins, wrecked the northern city of Sa’ada and damaged many other areas. When bombs hit residential areas, civilian deaths are inevitable. In 2016
, Yemen had the third highest number of civilian deaths and injuries of any conflict in the world.
Children are killed or injured every month in Yemen’s conflict. They’re collateral damage. They’re even targets of war. They’re recruited to fight at as young as ten years old.
But for Yemen’s children violence is just the beginning.
Parties to the conflict have bombed critical ports, roads, bridges and factories, severing imports and making local production of supplies near impossible. Naval and aerial blockades have almost cut off humanitarian aid and prevented entire communities from accessing their rights to food, water and medicines. UNICEF teams are doing everything possible to overcome these obstacles: setting up new supply hubs, using local sailing vessels and chartered flights and working with local partners to reach children cut off from humanitarian access.
But the very things children need to survive have become weapons used against them. And surviving has become a lot harder than dodging bullets and bombs.
Gripped by malnutrition
The cries of malnourished children echo through hospitals and houses as their bodies contract and they struggle to survive. Malnutrition stunts a child’s growth and intellectual development, trapping them years behind their potential.
“I would sell everything I have to ensure my children’s well being,” says one mother. When her 18-month-old son developed severe acute malnutrition she gave up what land she had to provide for him and his siblings. But Faisal’s malnutrition worsened, dropping in weight from twelve kilograms to just five, so his mother braved a dangerous two-day journey to the nearest hospital.