Millions of children in Yemen could be pushed towards starvation by the end of the year as the humanitarian crisis is compounded by a lack of funding as the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, UNICEF said on Friday.
A report by the United Nations children’s agency has indicated that the number of malnourished children under the age of five in the war-torn country could rise by 20% — to 2.4 million — unless the international community makes up for a massive shortfall in aid.
“If we do not receive urgent funding, children will be pushed to the brink of starvation and many will die,” said UNICEF Yemen representative Sara Beysolow Nyanti. “We cannot overstate the scale of this emergency.”
Yemen has been ravaged by war for over five years, during which Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, face an internationally-recognized government that is supported by a Saudi-led coalition. During this period, tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced due to the violence.
The UN has said that it is unable to keep an inflow of aid as the crisis shows no sign of ending. UNICEF needs nearly $461 million for its humanitarian response, along with $53 million for an effective COVID-19 response. Only 39% and 10% of these, respectively, have been funded.