Sunday January 16, 2022

Children of Yemen

February 18, 2021

Like children all over the world caught in a conflict situation, the children of Yemen bear no responsibility for the anguish that has overtaken that country for six years, since the war began in the country. Now, four UN agencies, including Unicef, the FAO, the WFP and the WHO, have said that 400,000 children under five could die this year in Yemen as a result of malnutrition if more aid is not given to the country, or some effort made to bring the conflict to an end. The agencies say they have not received the full amount of funds promised to them and can therefore not offer the kind of support and aid that Yemen and its children need. Each child also means a family that is struggling to survive and, apart from the 400,000 in danger of death, there are another 2.3 million who face acute malnutrition and 1.2 pregnant or lactating mothers who do not have enough food to sustain themselves or their unborn children.

The tragedy of Yemen has been mentioned many times. Recently, US President Joe Biden said that the war in the country had to stop. But these are mere words. The question is whether the fighting forces, with Saudi Arabia leading a group in the conflict and Iran supporting forces inside the country, will agree to these words. Most of the globe and most nations in the region seem oblivious to the suffering of the children and other people in Yemen despite the fact that this suffering has continued year after year, as the country is systematically demolished and the Covid-19 pandemic permitted to add to the crisis faced by people. It is of course a gigantic task for humanitarian agencies to salvage the situation and pull the children out of the crisis. Indeed, it seems like an almost impossible task, given the shortage of funding available to them and the lack of promised help that has come in. Yet, it is imperative that the world act. It is imperative that small children not be made to suffer for the follies of adults and leaders who determine what kind of lives they are to lead or what kind of deaths there are to face. Of course, Saudi Arabia and also Iran should take the lead in putting a stop to the war. Since this seems unlikely, other countries must pressurise them to act and to save Yemen.

The best way to influence people within the country is by offering them support rather than by killing them. Pakistan too must persuade other countries to do the same in the hope that better sense will prevail and countries will not allow the kind of agony they are seeing in Yemen to continue any longer.