Yemen: the unbearable silent death of a suffering nation

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 The resilience of Yemen's farmers and herders, especially women, needs to be boosted. Photo: FAO/Rawan Shaif

Imagine a poor country, ravaged by war, where half of the hospitals and schools are closed, and every other child is stunted.  Drinking water is scarce and so is food. Government officials have not been paid since August and a third of the population depends on humanitarian aid. This country exists: it is Yemen.

There are few images, and the access of journalists is limited. In today´s world of an overflow of images and information, the Yemen is a forgotten crisis. Since the escalation of violence in March 2015, the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate.

Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen - ©Fabienne Pompey/UNRIC“There are of course casualties in fighting, shelling and air strikes, but there also the silent deaths, indirectly caused by conflict,” said Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen on a visit to Brussels.

Among the victims, are the cancer patients, who do not get any more treatment, because of lack of hospitals and drugs. Malnourished and stressed pregnant women give birth pre-maturely to babies, who do not get appropriate treatment.  Diabetics, who need dyalisis are at risk and all those who do not have access to clean drinking water and are infected by water borne diseases.  

In addition there are hundreds of thousands of children, who suffer from malnutrition, and even if they survive, they will be stunted and not achieve their full physical and intellectual potential in live.  Two million children do not go to school anymore, 1,600 schools have been destroyed or damaged and have been closed.

Photo captions: A baby is screened for malnutrition at the UNICEF-supported Al-Jomhouri Hospital in Sa’ada, Yemen. Photo: UNICEF/Ma’ad Al-Zekri

“Even before the conflict, this was a poor country, so imagine how it is today. Almost 90% of all products have always been imported but now after the crisis hit the country the banks are no longer functioning and traders cannot continue their business. The situation is going from bad to worse.  Those who own anything: their appartments, their land,are selling their belongings, This is a very resilient population,”  says Mr. McGoldrick.

The United Nations will launch 7 February in Geneva a humanitarian appeal for Yemen to mobilise resources from donors, $2 billion, in order to secure the distribution of food aid, improve the access to health care, drinkable water,sanitation and the protection of the most vulnerable people.
$2 billion to save those who are threatened by silent death.

-> UNRIC Library backgrounder on Yemen: