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Press Release

New nutrition analysis confirms children are being starved in Yemen

The IRC has increased its nutrition work in the country, reaching more than 110,000 people in the last 12 months

Last updated 
  • New integrated food security and classification (IPC) report shows 240,000 Yemeni civilians facing famine conditions
  • The number of districts experiencing critical levels of acute malnutrition has doubled since the start of the war
  • Near the frontlines of the war, the IRC is seeing a global acute malnutrition rate (GAM) of 27%, close to double the global emergency threshold of 15%

A new integrated food security and classification (IPC) report shows that without food assistance 240,000 Yemeni civilians are facing famine conditions. About 2 million children under the age of 5 are severely malnourished in Houthi-controlled areas, and as many as 400,000 children could starve if assistance cannot be distributed to them.

Since July, increased fighting in and around the critical port city of Hodeidah has forced 650,000 people from their homes, and a collapse of the Yemeni Riyal has caused the cost of basic good to skyrocket. As a result, the IRC is seeing increased admissions at its 86 nutrition sites throughout the country and high levels of moderate and severe acute malnutrition, especially in children under five. At the frontlines of the war in Hodeidah, the IRC team is seeing a global malnutrition rate of 27 percent, close to double the 15 percent required by the World Health Organization to determine a critical emergency. This conflict is quite literally starving Yemenis to death.

Frank McManus, Yemen Country Director at the International Rescue Committee, said:

“Given Yemen is already the world’s largest humanitarian and food security crisis, this report confirms what we already know: children are being starved to death. While the numbers are shocking, no one can claim to be surprised by the severity of this crisis – it is as predictable as it is preventable. By the time a report like this is released, it is already too late. These findings offer a stark illustration of the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation, to which warring parties and their supporters must take responsibility for their role in exacerbating and take immediate action to rectify. Even as this report is released, clashes and airstrikes around the critical Hodeidah port continue unabated - harming civilians and critical infrastructure and undermining humanitarian work. Peace consultations in Sweden this week must lead to an immediate ceasefire and allow for unhindered access for aid agencies to reach those in need. The international community, and especially the US and the UK as military suppliers to the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition in Yemen, must use their influence to encourage meaningful outcomes from dialogue in the UN-led peace process.

The people of Yemen have been under attack from air strikes and fighting for nearly four years – with widespread violations of international law on all sides. The results are a decimated healthcare system, a collapsed economy, and millions of Yemenis who cannot afford food for themselves or their children. This crisis is completely man-made, and aid agencies working in Yemen have been calling for an end to this war for years. A failure to act now will push Yemen into a fully-fledged famine, and we will have a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions on our hands. The international community, and those with influence to exert on the warring parties, especially the US and the UK, will have to answer for their lack of action.”

While there is a large humanitarian response in Yemen, the response cannot scale up due to insecurity, import restrictions on supplies and travel restrictions on staff. What’s more, humanitarian aid alone cannot address the full scale or range of needs in Yemen and cannot keep pace with the overwhelming need. During peace consultations this week, in addition to an immediate ceasefire, the IRC is calling for all parties to the war to take immediate steps to improve humanitarian access, address the economic decline, ensure payment of salaries to public health workers and allow for the rebuilding of infrastructure. These measures cannot be held hostage to a political process.

“With more than 24 million people, nearly 80 percent of the population, in need of humanitarian aid, the world can no longer turn a blind eye to the catastrophe that is unfolding in front of it,” said McManus. “It is time to end the war in Yemen, focus on rebuilding the country and alleviating the incredible suffering of the Yemeni people.”

 

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.