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This Ramadan, Children in Yemen Are Struggling to Survive

April 2, 2021

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The holy month of Ramadan will be particularly difficult this year for families in Yemen, home of the world's worst humanitarian crisis


Six years of conflict, widespread economic collapse and now COVID-19 have pushed the country to the brink, leaving 80 percent of the population — including 12.4 million children — in need of humanitarian assistance.


Half of all children under age 5 in Yemen are likely to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021


Nearly 2.3 mllion children under age 5 in Yemen are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021; 400,000 could die if they do not receive urgent treatment. To protect Yemen's most vulnerable children, UNICEF health workers are on the ground, screening children for malnutrition and referring those in need to health centers, where they can receive the treatment they need to survive.


Case manager Ali Al-Raymi, below, visits impoverished families in Sana'a, Yemen, helping malnourished children like 9-month-old Nour, who weighed only 11 pounds when he first met her. 


© UNICEF/UNI366566/Abaidi


 "When Nour was born, she was weak and wasted, and her health kept worsening from day to day because of our poor living conditions," said her mother, Souad. Al-Raymi referred Nour to the Maeen Medical Complex for emergency treatment.


© UNICEF/UNI366566/Abaidi


At the health center, Nour was screened regularly, and slowly nursed back to health with therapeutic food and nutritional supplements. Soon, she began to take her first faltering steps.


 "I feel happy that my baby regained her health and started moving, toddling and playing," said Souad. "She used to feel tired all the time because of her poor health. It's an indescribable feeling as you watch your child recover from an illness that ravaged its body." 


© UNICEF/UN0434857/AFP


There is dead silence in health centers where children too weak to make a sound wait for treatment. Above, a Yemeni father sits with his child, who is being cared for in the malnutrition ward of al-Sabeen Maternity and Child Hospital in Sana'a. Below, a Yemeni health worker measures the height of a girl at the same hospital. 


© UNICEF/UN0434770/Huwais/AFP


“The increasing number of children going hungry in Yemen should shock us all into action,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “More children will die with every day that passes without action. Humanitarian organizations need urgent predictable resources and unhindered access to communities on the ground to be able to save lives.”


UNICEF is on the ground, working to keep Yemen's children safe and healthy: You can help


Yemen's youngest children are not responsible for the violent conflict unfolding around them, but they are paying the highest price. UNICEF has been on the ground since the crisis began, taking every measure possible to protect the health and rights and safety of millions of Yemeni children. But UNICEF can't do it alone. There is an urgent need for individuals, organizations and governments to come together and take action. Every child in Yemen deserves a safe and happy childhood.


In this holy month of Ramadan, we are reminded of our responsibility and power to do good. Your generous contribution will help UNICEF reach vulnerable children with the supplies and services they desperately need to survive and thrive. Please donate. 


Help Yemen's Children


Top photo: Nine-month-old Nour is treated for malnutrition at a UNICEF-supported health center in Sana'a, Yemen. © UNICEF/UNI366577/Abaid