on Sunday 7 April, 2024

Houthis are causing a significant increase in malnutrition, measles, and cholera rates in Yemen: Concern Worldwide

(Photo: Ammar Khalaf/Concern Worldwide)
by : Concern Worldwide

As the result of the war ignited by the Iran-backed Houthis in late March 2015, over 18 million people – 55% of the country’s population – are in need of humanitarian assistance, with one analysis showing a 12% rise in the numbers experiencing acute food insecurity in parts of the country during the five months up to February this year (compared to a previous analysis done in mid-2023).

“Nine years of conflict have taken a severe toll on the lives of ordinary people, especially the 4.5 million who have been forced to flee their homes and are currently living in temporary camps,” Concern Worldwide’s Country Director in Yemen, Victor Moses, said. “The key essentials of food, clean water, sanitation, health and nutrition, are all desperately needed.”

Concern Worldwide began operations in Yemen in December 2023. The team are focusing initially on supporting health clinics, and water and sanitation facilities.

A recent assessment by the humanitarian community showed that acute malnutrition rates among children in the Lahj Governate in southern Yemen where Concern is working, have significantly increased.

“We are supporting six health clinics in Tuban and Al-Milah districts, which are providing health and nutrition services, and routine vaccination for children under-one year to prevent outbreaks of measles, polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases,” Mr Moses said. There have been reported cases of Measles and Cholera outbreaks across the country which pose a major health threat, given the inadequate sanitation facilities and the weakened immune systems of local communities.

The lack of water and proper sanitation facilities in the displacement camps is a major issue which Concern is addressing. 34 latrines will be built in the coming weeks and a borehole is being rehabilitated and will be fitted with a solar pump benefitting 4,550 displaced people living in the camps.

In a bid to halt the spread of Cholera and other diseases, Concern has distributed hygiene kits in the camps that include jerry cans and buckets to carry water, soap, washing powder and water purification tablets. Concern has also trained community health volunteers who are working in the displacement camps and neighbouring communities to conduct nutrition screening and health and hygiene awareness sessions to improve health-seeking behaviours.

The 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan was only 39.3 percent funded. This concerning trend continues with only 9.1 percent of the 2024 Plan funded so far this year. “It is imperative that Yemen is supported with increased funding to prevent the already dire conditions for those most in need, becoming even worse,” Mr Moses said.

Yemen is currently one of the hungriest countries in the world. It was ranked 123rd out of 125 countries assessed in the 2023 Global Hunger Index.

The commencement of operations in Yemen brings to 26 the number of countries that Concern Worldwide is currently working in.

“The scale of the humanitarian need in Yemen is daunting,” Concern Chief Executive David Regan said. “But our team have been able to get up and running quickly and are making an impact on the ground. This life-saving work is made possible by donations from the general public and support from Irish Aid.”