Feature: Hunger, polluted water threaten millions in Yemen

Source: Xinhua| 2020-12-15 18:38:53|Editor: huaxia

A mother holds the hand of her malnourished child in Hajjah province, north Yemen, on Dec. 14, 2020. (Photo by Mohammed Al-Wafi/Xinhua)

HAJJAH, Yemen, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- Hadeel Abdu cries from hunger and stomach pains all day. The two-year-old girl can barely stand on her feet.

According to the United Nations, Yemen is facing the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet, with more than 2 million children suffering from severe malnutrition and over 20 million at the brink of famine.

The over six-year war has destroyed the country's infrastructure and shattered its health and economic systems.

"Hadeel has been ill for six months and her situation is getting worse," Hadeel's grandmother, Nisaybah Haj, told Xinhua in front of the family's hut in the border district of Haradh in Yemen's northwestern province of Hajjah.

"Our suffering began five years ago when we fled the battles to internally displaced camps, leaving behind our home, our farm and grocery...since then we have been touched by hardship and tragedy," she said.

"My son Abdu, the father of Hadeel, has since become unemployed. He goes to search for a job but most days he returns empty-handed," the grandmother added as she took us to the kitchen to show us some kind of food they cooked by firewood, a one meal a day which is not enough for the big family of 17 members.

Doctor Mohammad Saad at the district's health center said that Hadeel is one of hundreds of malnourished children in these areas.

"We are facing a major problem which is the lack of malnutrition medications amid the increasing numbers of malnutrition cases among children and pregnant women," Saad told Xinhua.

"Many malnutrition cases have been worsening by drinking dirty well water that leads to diarrhea and vomiting," he said, noting that "most families lack food and clean water due to the ongoing war."

Tarik Heba, head of the government-run health office in the besieged district, warns of increasing cases of malnutrition and diseases among children due to polluted well water in the northern border districts of Haradh and Hayran.

"There are increasing numbers of malnutrition cases and diseases among children in the liberated areas in the northern part of Hajjah province due to the lack of clean drinking water and spreading of polluted well water," he told Xinhua.

"There are more than 3,000 children suffering from severe malnutrition in these districts and the number is more likely to be increased due to the lack of medications and clean water," Heba added.

Elsewhere in the neighboring district of Abs, which is under Houthi rebel control, there are hundreds of children who are sick, according to the local health authorities.

Xinhua visited three homes there and found one-year-old Hashim Etain, two-year-old Abid Masawi and two-year-old Jana Yehya suffering from acute malnutrition and stomach bloating pains caused by polluted well water.

Yemen has been mired in civil war since late 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized control over several northern Yemeni provinces and forced the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of the capital Sanaa.

The United Nations is trying to resume negotiations between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels to end more than six years of war that killed tens of thousands of people, displaced 4 million and drove the Arab country to the brink of starvation. Enditem

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