ROME, Dec 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Hunger among
Yemen's children has reached an "all time high", with nearly 2.2
million in need of urgent care, the U.N. children's agency
UNICEF said on Monday.
At least 462,000 children suffer from severe acute
malnutrition - meaning they are extremely underweight for their
height - a drastic increase of almost 200 percent since 2014,
Sa'ada governorate in the country's northwest has the
world's highest stunting rates among children, affecting eight
out of 10 in some areas, the U.N. agency said.
Stunting - where a child is short for their age - is another
sign of chronic malnourishment and has irreversible consequences
for both physical health and cognitive function.
Other governorates - Hodeida, Taizz, Hajjah and Lahej - are
also badly affected after 20 months of war.
"Malnutrition in Yemen is at an all-time high and
increasing," Meritxell Relano, UNICEF acting representative in
Yemen, said in a statement.
"The state of health of children in the Middle East's
poorest country has never been as catastrophic as it is today,"
A conflict between a Saudi Arabia-led coalition and the
Iran-aligned Houthi group which controls much of northern Yemen,
including Sanaa, has destroyed much of Yemen's infrastructure,
killed more than 10,000 people and displaced millions.
Even before the escalation of fighting in March last year,
Yemen experienced widespread poverty, food shortages and a
dearth of health services. Now Yemen's health system is on the
verge of collapse, UNICEF said.
At least one child dies every ten minutes in Yemen because
of malnutrition, diarrhoea, and respiratory tract infections,
the agency said.
Aid agencies say they have limited access to areas caught in
"We call on parties to the conflict to give us unhindered
access to children in need across the country so we are able to
deliver nutrition supplies, treat malnourished children and
support Yemen's health services," said Relano.
(Reporting by Alex Whiting, Editing by Ros Russell; Please
credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of
Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights,
trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)