As the war in the Middle East rages on, weaponry has taken new and crueler forms, impacting the lives of many civilians. Roughly 6 months ago, the crisis in Yemen was receiving media exposure, prompting many people to donate and advocate for the cause. However, despite valiant efforts, the issue prevails.
According to the United Nations, in Yemen alone, 50,000 citizens are dying of hunger and 16 million will struggle through poverty this year. Starvation levels have not reached such a high interval in many years. Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, says “We are seeing a relentless countdown to a possible famine that the world hasn’t seen since Ethiopia in the 1980s.” A conference was held at the U.N. in hopes of raising 3.85 billion dollars to aid Yemen. Yet, rich countries lowered their donations to accommodate for COVID-19 relief. Funding fell short by $2 billion dollars, making the situation all the more devastating.
Egeland has spent time in many regions throughout Yemen, from Sanaa to Amran. He recalls, “children now having starved for so long that they were dying from all of the associated diseases.” Many families are unable to find proper shelter and often eat food scraps from dumpsters. He shares an additional experience at a clinic for starving children. He met a mother and her 9-year old daughter who only looked about 3 or 4 years old. She couldn’t walk from the lack of proper nourishment. Her mother originally had 14 children, but 5 of them died from starvation as well.
What first seemed like a minor issue that would only last a couple weeks has stretched out to years of destruction and famine. Egelend urges some sort of international cooperation to tackle the pressing issue, “We need access to all of these conflict and disaster zones where we do not get permits to operate as we should,” he adds, “Just going from two towns here now in the capital, Sanaa, to Hajjah, we had to cross nine checkpoints. And at any of those, you know, you can be held back for any amount of time.” Yemen is in need of global support and without it, any faith in humanity is lost.