As death toll rises, UN urges greater protection of civilians in Yemen, especially minors
Across the country, some 76 schools have been occupied by families displaced by the conflict, and updated data on nutrition indicates a rise in the number of acutely malnourished children to 967,000 – almost one in four – a UNICEF spokesperson, Merixie Mercado, told reporters in Geneva.
Stunting rates, a sign of chronic malnutrition, are at 60 per cent, with the children at risk of irreversible physical and cognitive damage, she added. UNICEF has called for its partners to “dig deep” for the funding of its activities in the country, as well urged delegates who will attend the Friends of Yemen meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on 23 May, to keep children at the centre of security and political discussions.
According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), the emergency in Yemen has all the indications of an acute humanitarian crisis, with nearly the entire population affected.
The crisis has had an impact on the delivery of essential health services such as immunization, management and treatment of child illnesses, control of communicable and non-communicable diseases and reproductive health services, a WHO spokesperson, Tarik Jasarevic, said at the same press encounter.
There has also been a measles outbreak, blamed on the fact that 20 per cent of the immunization facilities are not currently functional. Since the beginning of the outbreak, 170 children have died from 4,500 reported cases of measles. WHO and UNICEF assisted the Ministry of Health to carry out a vaccination campaign in March and April that reached 7.6 million children aged between six months and ten years of age across the country – a coverage rate of 98 per cent.
Two rounds of a national polio immunization campaign were conducted in December 2011 and January this year, and two more are planned in high-risk areas this year. Mr. Jasarevic said that there have also been outbreaks of dengue fever and Chikungunya among Ethiopian and Somali refugees.
The humanitarian response plan for Yemen this year is currently 25 per cent funded, while the health component of the appeal has attracted only 15 per cent of the $56.2 million required, he added.