The ant’s fragile legs, which were for his age, were awkwardly sticking out of the gray onesie hanging from him. At the age of three months, Yemeni babies are already fighting to maintain it for one-third of their lives.
Ali received free treatment for acute malnutrition at the devastated Zakat Public Hospital in the southern port city of Aden. But a fragile lifeline extends to him, and millions of hungry Yemeni children may quickly snap.
“You are facing the worst,” warned Philip Duamel, a spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February caused global wheat and fuel prices to skyrocket just months after underfunded UN agencies cut food aid to 8 million Yemen.
Further cuts are expected as donors promised only $ 1.3 billion next year out of the $ 4.2 billion required for humanitarian aid to Yemen on Wednesday.
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This is an international aid to help Yemeni Hospital keep lighting, stockpile medicine racks, and help transport patients from distant states such as Ali’s family who have traveled more than 480 km to reach Aden. May threaten.
“We need more and more, not less, but we’ve reached a level where we need to start scaling down,” Duamel said. Thomson Reuters Foundation..
“This is insane. This is insane.”
UNICEF predicts that by the end of 2022, 19 million Yemen will need food aid. This is an increase of 2 million since the beginning of the year.
Among them are 2.2 million children who are predicted to suffer from acute malnutrition this year.
“As always in these environments, it is the children who suffer the most, especially the children of poor families,” said Duamel.
“What you can’t pay”
When the war broke out in 2015, Yemen was already the poorest country in the region, and the significant devaluation of local currencies further crushed households.
Now that more than half of medical facilities are dysfunctional, UNICEF has begun subsidizing transportation for families who have to travel by bus for hours to reach a working hospital. did.
“With a lot of pain and embarrassment, parents would say,’I had to choose between spending money to treat this child or saving it to feed another child.'” How can parents make this choice? “Duamel said.
Private clinics remain too expensive for most people, so public institutions are the only recourse.
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“The families who come here are those who can’t afford to pay for private care,” said Malam Youssef, a doctor in the neonatal ward of Sadaka Hospital.
She spoke quietly, checking the newborns lined up in the incubator on the pink wall. Their small breasts were undulating when pulled out of a thin tube that was pierced by a needle in the nostril.
Her troops are funded by the United Nations, which receives payments for 16 machines and oxygen, as well as staff benefits that virtually double the salary of about $ 100 per month.
Other segments of Sadaka Hospital, which were not externally funded, were significantly exhausted.
The hallways were lined with rotten food, smelling of urine, and a young kidney disease patient was lying in a dirty crib.
At Arjumuriya Public Hospital, the generator continues to operate on the hemodialysis machine, funded by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“Patients, including children, came from 600km away, and some died because they couldn’t secure transportation to the center,” said Naviha Bamajid, head of unit management.
“If we lose international aid, it will be an absolute disaster,” Bamajid said.
Fuel is also important for running a local water pumping station, ensuring that families in one of the most water-stressed countries can safely wash, cook and drink.
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It is also at risk. UNICEF said the fuel stock at these stations would run out at the end of May.
Given the rising prices, replenishing them is even more expensive. This means that at the peak of summer, families can get stuck without water.
The gap in access to medical care is enormous.
Round-trip flights to Aden are regularly packed with medical tourists and can afford to travel for care in and beyond Cairo.
According to Aden’s program director, Ahmed Madkari, Yemen’s Saudi Arabia Development and Reconstruction Program is building a state-of-the-art hospital for $ 56 million.
The hospital is well stocked and is filled with pristine rooms with Western medical equipment wrapped in plastic.
However, the hospital has not opened yet.
And with shorter funding and the UN’s focus on Ukraine, the chances of closing the gap are even lower.
“Don’t let us decide whether to give food from Ukrainian children to Yemeni children,” David Beesley, head of the United Nations World Food Program, said at a pledge meeting on Wednesday.
Jan Egeland, chairman of the Norwegian Refugee Council, told the summit that he was “extremely disappointed.”
“More lives will be lost. More children will starve. More families will sleep outside. More communities will not have access to clean water. But somehow we Will have less money to support them, “he said.