Children at more risk of disease, hunger as crisis worsens in Yemen — UNICEF

July 1, 2015 9:22 am 

UNITED NATIONS, July 1 — The ongoing conflict in Yemen is having a devastating impact on the Middle East country's health system and has exposed millions of children to the threat of preventable diseases, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported today.

Millions of children in the war-torn state are at risk of disease amid widespread interruptions in vaccination services, the UN agency said in a press release.

While shortages in electricity and fuel are impacting health centers' ability to provide children with critical services, many parents were also too frightened by the sharp escalation in fighting to take their children to receive vaccinations.

The result is that an estimated 2.6 million children under the age of 15 are now at risk of contracting measles — a potentially fatal disease spread rapidly in times of conflict and population displacement, the agency said.

The number of children exposed to Acute Respiratory Infections is also likely to surge to 1.3 million due to the lack of vaccinations while over 2.5 million children remain at risk of diarrhea due to the unavailability of safe water, poor sanitary conditions and lack of access to Oral Rehydration Salt, compared to 1.5 million prior to the conflict, said the agency.

The humanitarian stresses brought on by Yemen's conflict have only compounded the already severe human toll of the fighting. The UN has reported that thousands of people in the country have been killed and injured by airstrikes and ground fighting in the last three months alone while over 1 million people have fled their homes.

Against that backdrop, a recent joint survey released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP), confirmed that 6 million people in the country are slipping towards severe hunger and now need emergency food and life-saving assistance, a sharp increase from the last quarter of 2014.

In addition to the population facing a food security "emergency", more than 6.5 million people are classified as facing a food insecurity security "crisis". (PNA/Xinhua)

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