Social Issues

Child malnutrition worsens in Yemen due to lack of relief funding

By Yahya Arhab

Bani Qais, Yemen, Sep 16 (efe-epa).- The only health center helping emaciated children in a remote village in western Yemen could be forced to close due to a lack of United Nations funding.

Mother-of five Om Adel carried her crying, starving 14-month-old son Adel to the facility in Bani Qais for treatment.

She said his body has been dwindling away and his condition was worsening day by day.

“If the medical support for this center is cut off, I have no choice but to keep my son at home, waiting for him to die,” she added.

“With no money, I can’t buy milk for him or afford to hire a car to take him to the nearest hospital.”

The center may have to shut in October as the UN has announced the suspension of 70 percent of health programs in the war-ridden country from September due to lack of resources.

Yemen’s prolonged conflict has had a devastating effect on its children, leaving 10.3 million without enough food every day, including nearly 1.8 million under the age of five who are facing acute malnutrition, according to UN figures.

Naziha Ahmed Hassan, who runs the nutrition ward at the Bani Qais health center, told EPA that Save the Children has also stopped providing medical aid to them.

“Save the Children has told us that the lack of funding will force them not to renew the provision of support to the center since its contract is nearing completion on 14 September,” she added.

“This is a disaster, especially since many children in our village suffer from malnutrition.

“We will not be able to continue treating them.”

Hassan said a three-year-old child died last week from complications of acute malnutrition.

She added that the center treats at least three malnourished children per week, including acute cases.

Yemen has been racked by an armed conflict that broke out after Houthi rebels ousted the Saudi-backed government late in 2014, plunging the Arab country into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Around 80 percent of the 29 million people living in the country are in need of humanitarian aid, according to official estimates.

“If we do not find other funding, I am afraid of the high death rate among children, especially those suffering from severe malnutrition,” Hassan warned.

Social researcher Mohammad Hessein conducted a survey last year in Bani Qais, which found that most of its residents face very poor living conditions and many parents go without food to provide for their children.

“The survey has found that poverty is one of the main causes of malnutrition,” he said.

“A pregnant or nursing mother or a malnourished child is very poorly fed.

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