The number of hungry children in Yemen could soar to 2.4 million by the end of 2020 as a result of huge cut in humanitarian support, UNICEF disclosed on Friday.
A UNICEF report warned of a 20 percent increase in the number of malnourished children under the age of five - nearly 50 percent of the impoverished nations' total of that age.
UNICEF representative Sara Beysolow Nyanti disclosed that the magnitude of the country's crisis cannot be overstated. "If we do not get urgent funding, children will be forced to the verge of starvation and many will die," Lisa Barrington of Reuters, reported.
UNICEF said that the number of malnourished Yemeni children could reach 2.4 million by end of 2020, a 20 percent spike on the current number. The stark outlook comes in a new disclosure by the United Nations children's agency, entitled Yemen Five Years On: The Children, Conflict And COVID-19.
Yemen's poor health care system is ill-equipped to combat the pandemic after five years of conflict between a Saudi-backed military organization and the Iran-led Houthi rebels. The war, which has largely ended in a stalemate, has also sparked the worst humanitarian crisis in the globe.
The conflict broke out in 2015 when the Saudi-led group intervened on behalf of the globally recognized state, which the Houthis had forced into exile when the group seized the capital, Sanaa, and a large portion of the country's northern regions the previous year.
Experts predict that the ongoing situation in Yemen will only get worse as donor nations have recently reduced financial support. Over 1,000 cases of COVID-19, including 275 fatalities, have been recorded in the country. It is assumed, however, that the real figure is much bigger as the government's testing capacity is extremely reduced.
UNICEF has estimated that by end of the year, 6,600 more children under the age of five can die from preventable causes. With a health system teetering closer to failure, only half of the health facilities are fully operational, with major drugs, supplies, and staff shortages.
Over eight million people, almost half of them children, are directly dependent on the agency for water, health, and hygiene, in the midst of continuing violence, cholera outbreaks, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
UNICEF is appealing for $461 million for its humanitarian crisis, which is now only around 38 percent funded, and $53 million for its coronavirus response which is roughly 10 percent funded. Around 7.8 million children are now out of school, putting them in danger of child exploitation, recruitment into armed organizations and even child marriage, UNICEF disclosed.