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UNICEF warns of acute food insecurity in MENA, puts Yemen on highest alert level

Shawqi, 1, with his mother at the maternal and childhood center in Zingibar, Abyan. Shawqi is making a strong recovery after receiving care at the UNICEF-supported health facility. (Photo by UNICEF)

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that active conflicts and the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa, especially Yemen have left millions of people, including children, at risk of hunger.

The report, published on August 31, said 58 million people, including about 29.5 million children in Yemen, Sudan, Lebanon, and Syria are at risk of facing the impact of acute food insecurity, with Yemen topping the list and remaining at the highest levels of alert.

The report also revealed a significant increase in the number of polio cases in Yemen, which constitutes a great danger and threatens the occurrence of a pandemic.

The UN agency report said that meanwhile, Yemen faces its largest annual decrease in funding for any coordinated plan in the world.

Last week, Yemen's al-Masirah television network reported Yemen's Ministry of Public Health and Population as confirming that the Saudi-led blockade on Yemen has raised acute malnutrition rates to more than 632,000 children under the age of five and 1.5 million pregnant and lactating women.

"The siege and intense bombardment with prohibited weapons caused a high rate of congenital abnormalities and miscarriages, with an average of 350,000 miscarriages and 12,000 malformations," it emphasized.

According to the ministry, the siege led to an eight percent increase in premature births compared to the situation before the aggression.

The blockade has also increased the number of cancer patients by 50 percent which reached 46,204 cases registered during the year 2021.

The ministry said that the Saudi-led aggression destroyed 162 health facilities completely or 375 partially and put them out of work.

Saudi Arabia, backed by the US and its other regional allies, launched a devastating war on Yemen in March 2015. The kingdom also imposed a blockade on the war-hit country in the same year.

The eight years of war have killed hundreds of thousands of people and destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure. The US and other Western countries have been providing Saudi Arabia and its allies with arms and logistics support.

The objective was to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and crush the popular Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen.

Not only has the Saudi-led coalition failed to meet its objectives by launching the brutal war, but also killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and resulted in what the UN calls the world’s “worst humanitarian crisis.”

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