The United Nations Children’s Fund
(UNICEF) has called on authorities to prioritize reducing malnutrition levels
as Yemen's transition plan is carried out.
Yesterday, following the
"Friends of Yemen" meeting in Saudi Arabia, the United Nations
Children’s Fund (UNICEF) called on the international community to make
combating malnutrition in the country a key priority.
Numbering roughly 13 million,
children make up more than half of Yemen’s population. Many of these children
are undernourished. Almost three-in-five have suffered stunting—retardation of their
development. An estimated 43 per cent of children under the age of five are
also moderately or severely underweight. Meanwhile, about one million
under-fives are acutely malnourished.
Since early 2011, protesters in Yemen
were moved by the Arab Spring uprisings in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia.
Long-serving ruler, the former President Abdullah Saleh, agreed to cede power
in November of last year, setting the stage for governance reforms. Saleh
formally stepped down in February of this year.
“The international community has to
work with the Government of Yemen to make the right choices in its Transition
Plan 2012-2014,” remarked the country’s UNICEF representative, Geert
Cappelaere. “The leading priority must be the fight against malnutrition, especially
as we head into the hunger and diarrhoea season in June,” she said in a news
release by the agency.
Almost 35 per cent of people live
below the national poverty line in Yemen, according toWorld Bank data. The average per capita
income is only $1,170, below the average for both the Middle East & North
Africa region and lower-middle income countries.
Violence over the past year has
endangered the lives and wellbeing of many Yemeni children.Across the developing world, girls are the
first to miss out on good meals and education when times are tough and
household expenses must be curtailed. With as many as 2.5 million children out
of school, girls are missing out the most here too.
Instability has even pushed child
malnutrition beyond emergency threshold levels. Investments in food and
nutrition, water and sanitation, hygiene and public health and social
protection schemes can make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable and