DAMASCUS, SYRIA (8:30 PM) – According to prominent humanitarian organisation Save the Children, no less than 130 children die every single day in Yemen due to malnutrition and preventable disease caused by the Saudi-led near total blockade of the country. The organisation furthermore warned that the situation will deteriorate even further if the lockdown of Yemen isn’t immediately lifted.
“Without urgent, unhindered access for humanitarian organizations and an increase in funding, Save the Children is warning half of these children will most likely go without treatment,” warned the UK-based group on Thursday, adding that “if left untreated, approximately 20-30 percent of children with severe acute malnutrition will die each year.”
The warning comes less than two weeks after Saudi Arabia announced that it would further restrict all access to Yemen by sea, air and land. The increased lockdown comes after a Yemeni missile was fired at Riyadh in retaliation for the two-year long military campaign the Saudi kingdom has been waging on its southern neighbour.
“The decision to block access entirely to the key entry points of Sana’a Airport and the ports of Hudaydah and Salif puts thousands more children at risk,” Save the Children clarified in the statement. A staggering 10,000 children are expected to die of starvation and disease in the provinces of Hudaydah and Ta’izz alone by the end of the year.
“hese deaths are as senseless as they are preventable. They mean more than a hundred mothers grieving for the death of a child, day after day,” said Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s Yemen Country Director.
Along with humanitarian organisations, three UN agencies, the World Food Programme, UNICEF and the WHO, have also made an official plea to Saudi Arabia to lift its blockade of Yemen, stating that unless Riyadh complies,
“untold thousands of innocent victims, among them many children, will die.”
The trio of organisations furthermore pointed out that 3.2 million people are in acute risk of famine, and an additional one million children are being threatened by an outbreak of diphtheria.
In March 2015, Yemen was invaded by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, in an attempt to destroy the Ansarullah movement, also known as the Houthis after its leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, and to return Riyadh ally Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to power in the country. Despite over two years of constant bombardments, the Saudis have failed to meet their strategic goals.
An alliance of Ansarullah fighters, Republican Guard troops and forces loyal to the General People’s Congress fraction of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh are still in control of much of Yemen, including the capital of Sana’a. This alliance has also formed a union government in Sana’a, named the Supreme Political Council, which has been running state affairs for the past two years.
Latest figures show that the war has so far killed over 12,000 Yemenis, and has destroyed many of the impoverished country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories. After nearly three years war, Yemen currently has seven million people on the verge of famine, and a further 900,000 suspected cholera cases in the past six months alone.