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'Five million' children at risk of famine in Yemen: NGO's Report

AFP , Wednesday 19 Sep 2018
Yemeni child
File Photo: A girl displaced by the fighting in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah sits at a school where IDPs live in Sanaa, Yemen June 26, 2018. (Reuters)
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More than five million children are at risk of famine in Yemen as the ongoing war causes food and fuel prices to soar across the country, charity Save the Children warned Wednesday.

Disruption to supplies coming through the embattled Red Sea port of Hodeida could "cause starvation on an unprecedented scale," the British based NGO said in a new report.

Save the Children said an extra one million children now risk falling into famine as prices of food and transportation rise, bringing the total to 5.2 million.

Yemeni child
A malnourished child lies on a weighing scale at the malnutrition ward of al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, Yemen September 11, 2018. (Reuters)

Any type of closure at the port "would put the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in immediate danger while pushing millions more into famine," it added.

Impoverished Yemen has been mired in deadly conflict between Shia Huthi rebels and troops loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi since 2014.

A Saudi-led alliance intervened in 2015 in a bid to bolster the president, accusing Iran of backing the Houthis, but nearly 10,000 people have since been killed.

Deadly clashes resumed around the Houthi-held port city of Hodeida following the collapse of talks in Geneva earlier this month.

"Millions of children don't know when or if their next meal will come," said Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International.

"In one hospital I visited in north Yemen, the babies were too weak to cry, their bodies exhausted by hunger.

"This war risks killing an entire generation of Yemen's children who face multiple threats, from bombs to hunger to preventable diseases like cholera," she added.

The United Nations has warned that any major fighting in Hodeida could halt food distributions to eight million Yemenis dependent on them for survival.

Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse the Houthi rebels of smuggling arms from Iran through Hodeida and has imposed a partial blockade on the port.

The Houthis and Iran both deny the charges.

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