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The Struggles Children Face in Yemen

Feed a fasting family in Yemen

Six years of brutal conflict in Yemen and being on the brink of famine, the most affected are the innocent and vulnerable children. With more than 24 million people in Yemen in need of humanitarian assistance – which is 80% of the population – 12 million of them are children who are unable to fend for themselves. This harsh reality has left a staggering amount of about 2 million children – who are under 5 years of age – acutely malnourished, whilst, 400,000 of these are expected to suffer extreme malnourishment, which, unfortunately, could lead to their fatal death if urgent care is not given to them as soon as possible.

Due to the ongoing conflict, economic decline, and now the deadly COVID-19, about 2 million children were left with no choice but to drop out of education and try to help their families with begging for money, finding food and water.

“These numbers are yet another cry for help from Yemen where each malnourished child also means a family struggling to survive,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. “The crisis in Yemen is a toxic mix of conflict, economic collapse, and a severe shortage of funding to provide the life-saving help that’s desperately needed. But there is a solution to hunger, and that’s food and an end to the violence. If we act now, then there is still time to end the suffering of Yemen’s children.”

Since 2014, all Yemen and its people have endured are suffering, bloodshed, terror, and destruction, so when will this end?

Life-threatening malnutrition

More than 2 million children – estimated to be approximately, 2.3 million – under the age of 5 years old are suffering from acute malnutrition and 400,000 of these children are expected to suffer life-threatening and severe acute malnutrition, causing deaths if urgent care is not received.

As reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund), the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), and partners, there has been an increase of 16 percent of acute malnutrition and 22 percent in severe acute malnutrition amongst children under the age of 5 years old from 2020. These are the highest levels of malnutrition to have been reported to date, as mentioned by the agencies, since the escalation of the conflict in Yemen in 2015. 

“The increasing number of children going hungry in Yemen, should shock us all into action,” said the Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore. “More children will die with every day that passes without action,” he continued.

Being acutely malnourished means that their diets are not being met and not having enough proteins or calories for their bodies to function. So, if there is not enough food in the body, it starts looking for something else, which has caused their own fat and muscles to break down, impairing their organs and demolishing their immune systems. Therefore, the 2.3 million children who are suffering from acute malnutrition are more susceptible to illnesses and deadly diseases.

As for the 400,000 children who are suffering from severe malnutrition, they carry a very high risk of death, as this is the most dangerous form of malnutrition. This form has compromised the body’s essential process, affecting the child’s physical and mental development in the long-term, even if they start receiving treatment.

Severe acute malnutrition can appear in two different types in a child. There is severe wasting, which is the child’s body appearing skeletal, thin, and almost elderly and there’s the second type, which is oedema, the child starts to experience extremely bad cramping due to their weak muscles, causing thinning hair or skin lesions.

Unfortunately, malnutrition doesn’t just happen to the children of Yemen because of lack of food, it also stems from the 1.1 million pregnant and breastfeeding women – projected to go up to 1.2 million in 2021 – who are also suffering malnutrition. This has a huge impact on the development and growth of infants and unborn babies, as they start their lives without enough nutrition, affecting them in the future. Malnutrition can damage a child’s physical and cognitive development during the first two years of their lives, making it largely irreversible, causing deadly and preventable illnesses and diseases, perpetuating poverty.

“Families in Yemen have been in the grip of conflict for too long, and more recent threats such as COVID-19 have only been adding to their relentless plight,” said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu. “Without security and stability across the country and improved access to farmers so that they are provided with the means to resume growing enough and nutritious food, Yemen’s children and their families will continue to slip deeper into hunger and malnutrition.”

This ongoing conflict and needless suffering have made Yemen, one of the most dangerous places in the world for children to grow up in. This all stems from the country’s high rates of communicable diseases, limited access to adequate health services for children, families, poor infants, and young child feeding practices.

What do the children of Yemen need?

Nutritious Food

80% of Yemen’s population is in need of humanitarian aid and protection. 12 million of them are children who are already in danger and on the brink of famine, which now, COVID-19 is added to their precious lives. Treatable illnesses, healthy food, clean water, and healthcare are all part of human rights and no one should be excluded. But regrettably, the people of Yemen are overlooked, forcing an entire country to endure suffering not known in human history. Millions of children are deprived of access to clean water and sanitation facilities, they are all in desperate need of basic healthcare, as well as, urgent life-saving food to survive.

“These numbers are yet another cry for help from Yemen where each malnourished child also means a family struggling to survive,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. “The crisis in Yemen is a toxic mix of conflict, economic collapse, and a severe shortage of funding to provide the life-saving help that’s desperately needed. But there is a solution to hunger, and that’s food and an end to the violence. If we act now, then there is still time to end the suffering of Yemen’s children.”

However, there are not enough funds to reach every child in danger, as charities like Saba Relief, need your help to continue to provide essential, life-saving supplies to the children who need it most in Yemen. Even the Humanitarian Response remains critically underfunded, as they have only received $1.9 billion of the $3.4 billion that was required in 2020.

Education

Food is not the only thing that the children of Yemen are in need of. Education is also a very important factor of anyone’s life, yet again, this is compromised and overlooked when it comes to the people of Yemen.

Yemen was once recognised as a centre of learning and knowledge, something that has left a profound historical legacy for the country. Yet, today children go to school lacking the basic school essentials like books, pens, notebooks, and bags, discouraging them from continuing, leading to a large number of dropouts.

Nearly half a million children have dropped out of school since the escalation of conflict in Yemen, bringing the total number of out-of-school children to almost 2 million according to UNICEF. This is an enormous proportion of children to not have any type of education in the country – 1 in 3 under the age of 18 are not attending school.

To make matters worse, almost three-quarters of public-school teachers have not been paid their salaries in years, putting the education of an additional 4.5 million children at grave risk. More than 2,500 schools are out of use, with two-thirds damaged by attacks, 27% closed and 7% used for military purposes or as shelters for displaced people.

The children of Yemen, just like any other child from around the world, deserve to have the right to education and gaining valuable knowledge, to be able to dream big and achieve those dreams. The war has stripped their dreams away from them, so we need to be able to provide moral support and encourage them to learn and get a good education.

Education and seeking knowledge are so important, that even our Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) has mentioned it in numerous hadiths. In fact, the first word that the Prophet (ﷺ) received in revelations from Allah was the word “Iqra”, meaning read. Since then, the Prophet (ﷺ) has spent his life, teaching the principles of Islam and the law laid down by Allah Almighty to the people around him. And it was his utmost patience and kindness in his teachings that has educated millions and continues to do so to this day.

The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “the seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim” – Al Tirmidhi, Hadith 74. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) didn’t exclude anyone from the beauty of education, so the children of Yemen shouldn’t be excluded either.

Orphan Sponsorship

Everyday, thousands of children across Yemen are facing unbearable hardship, as they struggle to survive in the midst of the unforgiving war. Due to the ongoing drought, malnutrition and treatable, but deadly diseases, they all too often become orphaned.

There are over 1.1 million children in Yemen and most of them are alone, hungry, and displaced, left to try and survive a war that should not have been there in the first place. They are forced to grow up without the warmth of their parents’ touch, not knowing how they will survive or even if they will make it to the next day. Their future is looking bleak by each passing day.

Every child deserves the opportunity for growth and prosperity in life. However, basic necessities are scarce for many orphan children in Yemen. These children do not know a happy home, or have a safe place to play, nor do they have access to quality education, medical care and nutrition. Instead, their lives are increasingly challenging, with the vulnerability to illiteracy, disease, child labour, lifelong poverty, and worst case – death.

The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: “I and the caretaker of the orphan will enter Paradise together like this, raising (by way of illustration) his forefinger and middle finger jointly, leaving no space in between.” – Saheeh al-Bukhaari.

Non-arguably, the suffering of children is one of the worst crimes of humanity. Especially vulnerable to the onslaught of challenges in Yemen, children are most affected by war, disease, famine and ongoing drought. The escalation of conflict in Yemen also contributed largely to many children being parentless today.

How Can I Help?

We are glad that you are willing to help the vulnerable and neediest children in Yemen. Undoubtedly, your donations will go towards creating so much good, and creating a brighter future for these children.

At Saba Relief, we aim to provide care and relief to orphans in need. Our goal is to provide care and financial assistance to as many of these children as we can.

With your donations, you enable us to help them more than survive in a country that is devastated by several plagues. We can work together to help the children in Yemen.

There a few options that you could help a child in Yemen.

Orphan sponsorship costs £20 a month or £240 for the whole year and this provides them with long-term food packs to feed them and their relatives, clothing and healthcare if they need it. In addition to this, they receive an Eid gift and new clothes every Eid.

You could provide a child with the opportunity to go to school today and earn their education and knowledge. This costs only £30 a month, with this amount, children will be able to stay in education, have their school kits and uniforms provided for. This will encourage them to continue their education and achieve their dreams in the long run.

The Prophet Muhammed (ﷺ) said, “The best among you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it to others.” – Saheeh al-Bukhaari.

For £17 a month or £200 for the year, you give the opportunity to a child to gain Qur’anic studies. This investment is a form of ongoing charity, in other words in Islam known as, Sadaqah Jariyah.

These innocent children who were born into this war or have learned to live through, should not have to be forced to be a part of it. Rather, they should be enjoying their childhood, learning new things, developing themselves and having fun – just like any other child out there in the world.

Unfortunately, their living conditions have stopped them from becoming normal children, but there is still time to make amends. This can only be done by the donations that we receive from you.

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