“Malnutrition Hits Millions of Children in Yemen”
The New York Times, December 19, 2014, p.A6
“Yemen is the most impoverished country in the Middle East, and among its grim distinctions is having one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world. Political turmoil since the 2011 uprising against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh has left an already feeble government even less able to care for its indigent citizens. Chronic challenges have become emergencies as the state’s presence in much of Yemen has started to dissolve. One million children younger than 5, roughly a third of the age group in Yemen, are suffering from life-threatening malnourishment, according to Daniela D’urso, the head of the European Commission’s humanitarian aid office in Yemen. About two million children are chronically malnourished. Nearly 60 percent of Yemeni children suffer from stunted growth, according to public health workers, who in the past few months have noticed other worrying trends, including cases of malnutrition giving rise to other maladies like tuberculosis. … Yemen has become ‘a weak state that is unable to provide both security to its citizens and social services,’ said Jamal Benomar, the United Nations envoy to the country, who has spent more than two years trying to shepherd a transitional plan backed by Persian Gulf countries that appears more and more imperiled by the day. Yemen’s humanitarian crises were ‘largely the result of failure of governance and mismanagement,’ Mr. Benomar said. ‘Getting out of the crisis,’ he added, ‘is what would help.’ … Things may soon grow even worse. The country is facing financial ruin, with diplomats and officials saying the government may not have enough money to pay its civil servants next month. A currency devaluation may also be imminent. That would raise the prices of basic goods, including food, that Yemen imports. The country has been hobbled by shocks beyond its control, including a decision last year by neighboring Saudi Arabia to deport hundreds of thousands of Yemeni expatriate workers, curbing a critical source of remittances and adding to the country’s unemployment rate of roughly 50 percent. The Saudis have also reportedly begun cutting off billions of dollars of aid to Yemen, in a sign of their consternation with the Houthis, whom they view as clients of Iran, the Saudi monarchy’s regional rival.”
Quickie Analysis: If the Yemeni government doesn’t cease its squabbling, there will no longer be a country to squabble over.