Yemen`s children suffer malnutrition, lack of medical care amid ongoing war

Yemen`s children suffer malnutrition, lack of medical care amid ongoing war

. (Reuters)

By Mohamed al-Azaki

Sana`a, Sept. 5 (Antara/Xinhua-OANA) - Wijdan Mohammed Hussein is only four years old, but her face looks ten times older than age. With a tiny and skeletal body, she cannot even sit by herself.

Wijdan is among the 1.8 million malnourished children who are struggling to survive in the war-torn Yemen, where the United Nations Children`s Fund (UNICEF) warned that the number of malnourished children is increasing daily.

Wijdan was brought by her mother to the Al-Sabeen Maternity and Child Hospital in the rebel-held capital Sanaa, after a long journey from al-Mahathirah, a remote village in the faraway northern province of Saada.

"Her father died from hunger two months ago," Karimah Hussein, Wijdan`s mother, told Xinhua.

"She is always sick with flu, stomachache, vomiting and diarrhea," the mother said.

She said, in a low voice, that the war and continued airstrikes had damaged every farm and all kinds of business in and around her village.

"I have sold everything to pay taxi fee to bring my daughter to the hospital because most health centers in Saada had been destroyed," the mother said.

Doctor Elham Abdulaziz said Wijdan has acute malnutrition, amoebiasis and inflammation in the chest.

"She is in critical condition," Abdulaziz said, while examining Wijdan.

"The number of malnourished children is increasing daily as long as the war and economic blockade continue," the doctor said, adding that the hospital receives up to 90 similar cases every day.

Inside the corridor of the Al-Sabeen Maternity and Child Hospital, another 20 families, carrying their visibly malnourished children, were waiting for treatment.

Most of the children came from remote villages from faraway provinces of Hajjah, Bayda, Raymah, Hodeidah, Jawf, Amran and Mahweet.

Mohammed Hasan al-Mazi, who is one and half years old, has been suffering malnutrition for eight months. The child arrived at the hospital along with his parents after a seven-hour travel from Bast village in Abs district of the northwestern province of Hajjah.

"Worsening economic situation, war, and salary cut are key reasons behind our child`s illness," Hasan al-Mazi, father of Mohammed, said in angry voice.

Asriyah Faysal, a four-month-old baby girl, came from a remote village in the western mountainous province of Raymah.

"We had travelled seven hours on ragged roads and two hours on a paved road until we arrived at the hospital," said the girl`s father.

"I have no money or job ... I want to treat my daughter from malnutrition," the desperate father said.

As a public health center in the capital Sanaa, the capital lacks the most basic medical supplies. All the medicines were bought from pharmacies outside the hospital.

Civil war erupted in Yemen in March 2015 between the Yemeni government backed by the Saudi Arabia-led Sunni military coalition and the Iranian-allied Shiite Houthi rebels which seized much of the north, including the capital Sanaa.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has reported that more than 160 attacks against medical facilities in Yemen have been carried out by the warring parties, damaging 45 percent of the country`s medical facilities.

The naval blockade has "significantly restricted" imports of food, medicines and fuel, according to the ICRC and Save the Children Organization.

Power cuts have forced hospitals to rely on generators, while salary cuts have forced most of the state medical employees to leave.

Last week, Peter Salama, deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response of the World Health Organization, warned of possible "third wave" of cholera epidemic. Since April last year, the disease has already killed 2,300 people, mostly children.

The war has killed more than 10,000 Yemenis, mostly civilians, and displaced over 3 million others, according to the data recently released by United Nations humanitarian agencies.

Nearly 25 million Yemenis have no access to clean drinking water since the war erupted.

Yemen, the poorest Arab country, is now on the brink of mass famine, with about half of the children under five chronically malnourished, the UN has warned.

Still, there is no sign of a quick end to the war, despite the peacemaking efforts made by the UN, which is to host a new round of peace talks on Yemen in Geneva on Sept. 6.

(U.C003)

(T.C003/C/C003/C003) 05-09-2018 20:40:01

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