The recent United Nations report revealed a 31.7% Global Acute Malnutrition in Yemen's Hodeidah Governorate. Isn't that a malnutrition rate similar to the worst areas of starvation inside Somalia? Could Yemen be the next Somalia?
Yemen, unfortunately, has the highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world with close to 60% of children reported as stunted. In some parts of Yemen, global acute malnutrition rates are indeed equal than in parts of [the] drought- and famine-struck Horn of Africa, with 30% of those under five years of age being wasted (globally acute malnourished). Severely acute malnutrition levels are approaching 10% in certain pockets of the country. So the levels of chronic and acute malnutrition amongst Yemeni children are unprecedented in most parts of the world.
Certainly, Yemen could be the next Somalia and very soon, if the world keeps watching with no action. UNICEF has been ringing the bell very loudly that we do not want the situation of children to turn into a humanitarian disaster.
Do UNICEF and other aid agencies have a full picture of what is happening with hunger and malnutrition especially in rural, more isolated areas? Could the Hodeidah malnutrition findings tragically be the tip of the iceberg in Yemen?
UNICEF and humanitarian workers on the ground have made it clear that Yemen, which is already chronically underdeveloped, is on the verge of a humanitarian disaster. The situation is much worse than what people could imagine. Also our collective response has not been up to the challenge. Limited funding has led to a reduction in assistance, negatively impacting the nutrition and food security status of families already facing protracted displacement.
The recent findings of the UNICEF survey coming from Hodeidah are consistent with those findings coming from Hajja, for instance, and other parts of the country. Nearly one third of children surveyed suffer from either moderate or severe acute malnutrition – of which nearly 10 percent were severe cases. Wherever we go, wherever we survey, wherever we assess, we come to the same conclusions: levels of acute malnutrition in Yemen are incredibly high.