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  1. ITV Report

Starving baby shows horrific effects of war in Yemen

  • Warning: Contains distressing images

These are the last pictures of Udai Faisal, a five-month-old baby who has died of severe malnutrition as a result of the spread of hunger in Yemen.

The baby's sunken face and protruding bones illustrate the horrific consequence of Yemen's war since Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a campaign of airstrikes and a naval blockade a year ago.

Doctors in Sabaeen hospital's emergency ward said he had severe malnutrition, diarrhea and a chest infection.

They had put him on a nasal drip of antibiotics and a feeding solution. At around five months old, he weighed only 2.4 kilograms (5.3 pounds).

Udai Faisal died of severe malnutrition in Yemen Credit: APTN

His parents, Faisal Ahmed and Intissar Hezzam, said that when they first took their youngest son to hospital, they were turned away due to a lack of beds.

His mother, Intissar, said: "They took him out of the malnutrition ward yesterday. They said there were no beds. He didn't eat yesterday or the day before."

Saddam al-Azizi, head of the emergency unit, described health facilities in Yemen as: "next to nothing."

"A lot of the treatments are increasingly unavailable - the medicines for malnutrition, but also medicines in general," he said. "Health services are completely gone with the blockade, the health situation has completely deteriorated."

Credit: APTN

Abd el Kareem Ali, a shopkeeper near the family's home said he was struggling to get stock to sell.

"Sugar could be bought in bulk before for 6,000 rial, now it's 10,000 rial," he said. "And for a 10-kilo bag, it was 1,500, now it costs 2,200, and we can't even get hold of it."

The family eats once a day, usually yoghurt and bread, and peas on a good day.

Hezzam says she was able to breastfeed her newborn son for about 20 days, but then her milk stopped, likely from her own malnutrition.

Abeer Etefa, of for the World Food Programme explained: "This is a circle, because children inherit hunger from the mother. If the mother, during pregnancy, and while nursing her child, is hungry, she will also give hunger to her child."

Intissar Hezzam cries at the site of her starving baby Credit: APTN

Five days after being admitted, Udai's parents said doctors told them his situation was "hopeless." Their child died two days later at home.

Doctors said they believe the family took the baby out of the hospital because they couldn't afford to pay for the medicines - a nasal drip of antibiotics and a feeding solution - which are in short supply.

Had Udai remained in hospital, the baby would have had around a 30% chance of survival, the physician said.

In the first three months of 2016, around 150 children have been admitted to the hospital suffering from malnutrition, double the number in the same period last year, al-Azizi said.

Around 15 have died, not counting Udai.

Yeman has one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world, and figures have leaped in the past year.

UNICEF estimates:

  • Around 1.3 million children under five suffer moderate malnutrition - up from around 690,000
  • Around 320,000 children now suffer from severe acute malnutrition - the worst cases where the body starts to waste away - up from 160,000 a year ago

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