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Fears military action in Yemen will worsen humanitarian crisis

Nadia and Fatima are exhausted and beyond despair. The fragile sisters lie next to each other on a bed in their remote village home.

Nadia, four, summons the strength to cry while six-year-old Fatima lies weakened from hunger.

Their bloated bellies and wasted bodies reflect the reality of the famine now affecting parts of Yemen.

Their mother Leila has run out of hope. She's frightened and feels helpless.

Nadia and Fatima's mother, Leila, says she has run out of hope. Credit: ITV News

"If my girls need food, we will not find it, there's nothing. They will die from hunger. We don't have money to cure them, no money to feed them," she said.

"My daughters are like this because of hunger. They have no medicine and no food."

"I am very tired. I cry, I cry so much, I never stop crying. I never sleep," she said.

Hodeidah Hospital sees those who can afford the means to reach here. But they're a tiny fraction of those now starving in rural areas.

An 18-month-old boy who has been brought to Hodeidah Hospital with severe acute malnutrition and a chest infection. Credit: ITV News

Doctor Musra Mohammed says 25%-30% of children in Hodeidah suffer from severe malnutrition. She believes the levels have now reached a famine.

"It makes me cry. It makes me very angry because I can't do anything for them. I try to help them but I can't achieve what I want to do," she said.

Dr Musra Mohammed says up to 30% of children in Hodeidah are suffering from severe malnutrition. Credit: ITV News

More than 70% of Yemen's food and supplies come through Hodeidah's port. But it's cranes have already been bombed by the Saudi-led coalition in the war.

The port and this city of half a million people is now in a state of fear over plans by the coalition to launch a full scale assault to try to break the deadlock in a war now entering it's third year.

The UN and aid agencies are warning that the consequences for the whole of Yemen will be catastrophic if there's military action in Hodeidah.

A UN worker fears food insecurity will increase in Yemen. Credit: ITV News

Jamie Mcgoldrick, the UN's Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Yemen, says the move could be a tipping point in a country already dealing with the world's largest humanitarian crisis.

"Over time if the port gets closed and the prices go up and food insecurity increases, then more people will suffer and more people will die unnecessarily, exacerbated again by the fact that the health industry and services provided by the government and authorities don't exist," he said.

  • Donate to the Yemen Crisis Appeal now by visiting the DEC website or calling 0370 60 60 610