Yemeni Situation Draws Concern of UN

29/03/2012 – The social, economic and political situation in Yemen has drawn concern from the UN Security Council and UNICEF. Children continue to bear a large part of the burden, with 750,000 likely to be acutely malnourished.

Malnutrition among children continues to be ever-present in Yemen, where 57 per cent of children are stunted. Stunting can have lasting consequences for children’s normal physical and cognitive development.

It is possible that of the 750,000 children who will suffer from acute malnutrition this year, only a third will escape the risk of death or long-term damage to their minds and bodies.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) chronic malnutrition rates are the second-highest in the world, after Afghanistan, when it comes to children. The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) classified Yemen as the eleventh most food insecure country in the world.

UNICEF aims to increase its ability to serve villages through its volunteer network and more programmes, reports the Al Arabiya News network.

The convergence of social and economic troubles with political violence continues to affect children’s wellbeing, mainly through child protection challenges, shortages of clean water, inadequate sanitation and food scarcity.

“The national reconciliation government is still facing grave challenges that hinder the implementation of its developmental and economic programs,” confirmed Yemen's new ambassador to the UN, Jamal Abdullah al-Sallal.

Malnutrition has risen more than 30 per cent in the last year in Yemen’s Hodeidah region alone.

As is characteristic of many poor and food-insecure families, the majority of household income goes to purchasing food and water. With seven million people in need of food support in this country of 24 million, it is not uncommon for families to spend 80-90 per cent of their income on bread and water.

According to a UN news release, “all parties [in the political process] were urged to facilitate full, safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian actors to reach people in need of assistance.”

Yemen’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was ousted earlier this year, and last month’s elections were won by by Abbed Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi. Yet, total political stability remains elusive. The UN Security Council, alarmed at the deterioration of the political situation, today called for cooperation between Yemeni political actors to facilitate the governance transition.

In addition, children continue to be recruited by armed groups. The Security Council called for “continued national efforts to discourage the use and recruitment of child soldiers.”

The recruitment of child soldiers violates international human rights law, as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.