Britain is to supply new emergency aid to help tackle a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, saving thousands of children’s lives and helping hundreds of thousands more, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has announced.
Half of all under fives in Yemen are currently severely malnourished, and in some areas over one in 15 die before their fifth birthday. Current violence and political instability threaten to drive down conditions across a country already severely affected by years of conflict and poverty.
The critical new British aid funding for UNICEF will:
- Stop 11,000 under five year olds dying from malnutrition and help to treat 36,000 more malnourished children
- Stop 600 under five year-olds dying from dehydration
- Reduce life-threatening diarrhoeal disease by 35 per cent in schools by improving water and sanitation
- Vaccinate 54,000 children for measles and prevent blindness, deafness and brain damage in over 2,000 children
- Improve education for at least 200,000 children, and help get over 27,000 back in to school
British support will also enable the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to prepare for the possibility of a rapid worsening of the situation as a result of the current civil unrest. This could include getting life-saving equipment ready to distribute at short notice, such as water purification and storage equipment, tents and medical supplies.
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said:
“The situation in Yemen is on a knife edge. It is the most vulnerable members of society, particularly the youngest children, who find themselves on the front line of this humanitarian crisis.
“Yemen was already facing a dire combination of high population growth, a weak economy, and conflict and violence flashpoints. We have to act now, both to meet the serious needs that this has created and to address the risk that ongoing political instability sends the country into an irreversible downward spiral. That would have implications for stability across the region and ultimately could seriously affect us here in Britain as well.
“Acting now is not only in the interests of very poor people in Yemen, but in also in the direct interest of all of us too.”