At least 85,000 children in Yemen starved to death in the past three years from acute malnutrition during its brutal war, a leading aid group reported on Wednesday.
The number is equivalent to the entire under-five population in the UK’s second largest city of Birmingham, Save the Children adds.
The humanitarian agency found some 84,701 children may have starved to death between April 2015 and October 2018 because of a lack of food, reports Al Jazeera, a state-funded broadcaster in Qatar.
We are horrified that some 85,000 children in Yemen may have died because of extreme hunger since the war began,” Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s director in Yemen, said in a statement.
“Children who die in this way suffer immensely as their vital organ functions slow down and eventually stop… Parents are having to witness their children wasting away, unable to do anything about it.”Since the Saudi-Emirati military intervention in March 2015 in Yemen, commercial imports of food through the vital Hodeidah port have been reduced by more than 55,000 tonnes a month, enough to meet the needs of 4.4 million people, including 2.2 million children, the group said.
The World Food Programme says up to 14 million Yemenis are now at risk of starvation as fighting rages in Hodeidah.
“Any further decline in imports could likely lead directly to famine,” it warned.
It is difficult to get an exact number of deaths. Aid workers in Yemen say many go unreported because only half of the country’s health facilities are functioning and many people are too poor to access the ones that remain open, reports BBC news.Save the Children says it based its figures on mortality rates for untreated cases of Severe Acute Malnutrition in children under five from data compiled by the UN. According to conservative estimates, it calculated that around 84,700 children may have died between April 2015 and October 2018.
The UK-based charity blames the blockade for putting more people at risk of famine, with continued heavy fighting around the principal lifeline port of Hudaydah further exacerbating the situation.