The Current

Yemen situation 'catastrophic' as more than 300,000 malnourished children risk death

Week after week, Yemen's civil war grinds. To date, almost 3,000 children have been killed or injured in the conflict. As 370,000 severely malnourished children face a greater risk of death, many question why the plight of Yemen has been overlooked.
Salem Abdullah Musabih, 6, lies on a bed at a malnutrition intensive care unit at a hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodaida, Yemen, Sept. 11, 2016. (Abduljabbar Zeyad/Reuters)

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On Oct. 8, an airstrike by a Saudi-led coalition hit a funeral hall packed with mourners in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, killing at least 140 people.

The UN called the attack "outrageous" and, once again, issued a call for an international investigation into the deaths of civilians.

Yemeni mourners carry the coffin of Abdel Qader Hilal, the mayor of the capital Sanaa, Oct. 10, who was killed, among 139 other victims, in an airstrike on a funeral. (Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images)

Almost 3,000 children have been killed or injured in the 18-month-old  conflict, but young Yemenis also face another risk. The 370,000 severely-malnourished children puts them at 10 times greater risk of death than normally healthy children.

"The situation here is quite catastrophic," Rajat Madhok of Unicef Yemen tells The Current's guest host Piya Chattopadhyay. 

Madhok is calling for the international community to turn its attention to stopping this conflict.

Rajat Madhok of Unicef Yemen says Yemen's children are under threat, out of school and malnourished - they need the world's attention. (Abduljabbar Zeyad/Reuters)

"If the conflict stops, the health system possibly would come back on its feet, people will start getting medical aid that they desperately need," says Madhok.

"Life would come back to being normal. That's what's needed right now."

Yemeni-Canadians are working to turn the world's attention to the plight of their relatives back home.

"My family and others like them feel that the world has turned a blind eye," says author and journalism professor Kamal Al-Solaylee, who has brothers and sisters in Sanaa. 
A damaged house at the site of a Saudi-led airstrike in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen, Sept. 22, 2016. (Abduljabbar Zeyad/Reuters)

He tells Chattopadhay that Yeminis feel a sense of abandonment.

"No one is speaking for Yemen."

According to Al-Solaylee, the forgotten war in Yemen has been overshadowed by Syria in the headlines and now the world's supply of empathy is exhausted.

"I mean empathy is finite at the end of the day, and there's nothing left for people in Yemen."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Karin Marley and John Chipman.