The Yemeni conflict, the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, grinds on. Despite a rare exchange of prisoners, fighting in October claimed over 50 lives in the port city of Hodeida—the main conduit for aid. More died fighting in Marib and Jawf provinces. This worsened a devastating toll of 80 percent of the population—24 million people—needing humanitarian aid. Nearly half are acutely food insecure, with 2 million facing crisis levels of hunger. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened this tragedy and the U.N. says deaths could exceed 230,000 with a death rate five times the global average. Only half of the country’s health centers are fully operational. Cholera continues to spread with 180,000 new cases reported in the first eight months of 2020. Economic activity is down by 50 percent, and the poverty rate is up to 80 percent as the middle class erodes. The 10 percent of the population reliant on remittances are seeing declines of up to 80 percent. There are 3.6 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in the country with 155,000 added in the first half of 2020. Even if the war ends in 2021, development would have been set back 25 years—40 years if it ends in 2030.
Within the broader tragedy, Yemen’s children, especially the 2 million who are IDPs, are the most vulnerable. UNICEF says 12 million need urgent humanitarian assistance. By the end of 2020, the number of malnourished children under age 5 could reach 2.4 million—half the children under 5 in the country. The mental and emotional toll has also been high with over half of children struggling with depression—with long term consequences for their future as productive individuals.
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