Every ten minutes one child dies from malnutrition and vaccine-preventable diseases in Yemen.
Located in the Middle East, Yemen shares their northern border with Saudi Arabia. For years Yemen has been crippled by an on-going civil war. This conflict is mainly between Houthi rebels who are fighting against a pro-government camp supported by a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
This fighting has resulted in more than two-thirds of Yemenis relying on some form of aid. Yemen has been in a civil war since 2015, and in 2019 alone there were more than 23,000 fatalities reported.
Five years of war has shattered Yemen’s health system; leaving the country vastly overwhelmed by their epidemic and pandemic.
Not only is Yemen ravaged by war, they are in the middle of a cholera epidemic and the coronavirus pandemic. Due to the Civil war, food imports have been scarce—and given that is the main way Yemenis get food, a majority of the country is starving.
The medical system is overloaded by the Cholera epidemic, brought on by lack of clean water and food across the country. As the coronavirus outbreak spreads in Yemen, the medical system is on the verge of collapse. Many health care workers or volunteers refuse to come to work, fearing coming in contact with the virus with no resources to help fight it.
In addition to this the global pandemic has stifled international aid and funding for the humanitarian crisis.
In Yemen right now 24 million people are in need of humanitarian services, 20.1 million don’t have regular access to food, 19.7 million are in need of basic healthcare, and 18 million people currently lack access to clean water.
Every ten minutes a child dies in Yemen. It is estimated currently that two million children are acutely malnourished, including 360, 000 children that are under the age of five who are struggling to survive.
Yes, it is difficult to adjust to the new normal that COVID-19 has forced us into. But as Canadians we have access to food, clean drinking water and a highly developed medical care system. We just celebrated 153 years of Canada for Canada day; we sang our anthem, we wore our country’s colours and we felt proud to be from a nation where we are safe and free from war.
If Canada was in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, other nations would pay attention. Yemen is suffering and nobody is paying attention.
June has been a month of sweeping change across the world, of recognizing who and what we need to stand up for. We need to keep checking our privilege—it’s easy to forget just how lucky we are.
We were sad there were no fireworks and big celebrations this month, Yemenis are terrified that their families won’t wake up in the morning.