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377,000 Yemenis will die by end of the year, UN estimates

31st Dec 2021
377,000 Yemenis will die by end of the year, UN estimates


7-month-old Ahmed Rashid Mokbel is given formula, Al-Sadaqa Hospital,, Aden, Yemen. (Photo: Nariman El-Mofty/Flickr Commons)

Harun Nasrullah

Yemen’s war will claim 377,000 lives by the end of this year, with 70% of those killed under age five, according to a UN report released on November 23.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) found that 60% of deaths would have been the result of indirect causes, such as hunger and preventable diseases, with the remainder a result of direct causes like front-line combat and air raids.

“In the case of Yemen, we believe that the number of people who have actually died as a consequence of conflict exceeds the numbers who died on the battlefield,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said.

Conflict has engulfed Yemen since 2014, when the Ansarallah (Houthi) movement captured parts of northern Yemen, including the capital, Sana’a, after the government fled. In March 2015, Saudi Arabia intervened in the war in support of the government.

The conflict, described by the UN as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, has been deadlocked for years, with Yemen teetering at the brink of a famine and tens of thousands of people killed. More than 15 million people live in extreme poverty.

According to the report, titled Assessing the Impact of War in Yemen: Pathways for Recovery, 1.3 million Yemenis will die by 2030. 70% of them would be caused by indirect causes such as job loss, high food prices, and the decline of essential services like health and education.

The report also found that the number of those experiencing malnutrition would surge to 9.2 million by 2030, and the number of people living in extreme poverty would reach 22 million, or 65% of the population.

The report suggests, if the conflict ended immediately, extreme poverty could disappear in Yemen within a generation. If the conflict ends, the report estimated economic growth of $450bn by 2050, in addition to halving malnutrition – currently affecting 4.9 million people – by 2025.

Further, projections showed that focused efforts on empowering women and girls across Yemen could lead to a 30% boost of GDP by 2050, coupled with a halving of maternal mortality by 2029. However, the UNDP noted that the war “continues to propel in a downward spiral”.

“The people of Yemen are eager to move forward into a recovery of sustainable and inclusive development,” said Khalida Bouzar, Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States. “UNDP stands ready to further strengthen our support to them on this journey to leave no one behind so that the potential of Yemen and the region can be fully realised – and so that once peace is secured, it can be sustained.”

The report emphasises that the upward trend for development and wellbeing must be supported not just by peace efforts, but also by regional and international stakeholders to implement an inclusive and holistic people-centered recovery process that goes beyond infrastructure.

Investments focused on agriculture, women’s empowerment, capacity development, and effective and inclusive governance were projected to have the highest return on development.

In a statement to The Muslim News, Katie Fallon of Campaign Against Arms Trade, said: “This horrifying report is a reminder that while the war in Yemen may have fallen off the news agenda, its devastating impact on the people of Yemen is as bad as ever.

Promises by President Biden to end support for the Saudi coalition’s role in the war have not been fulfilled, despite a welcome halt to a few arms sales. Meanwhile, the UK Government continues to supply arms to Saudi Arabia without restraint.

“The UK, the US and other leading powers must immediately halt the arms sales that are prolonging and exacerbating the war, press hard for an end to the Saudi blockade that is one of the main contributors to the humanitarian catastrophe, and engage in sustained and meaningful diplomatic efforts to bring the war to an end. The UK must also reverse its cruel cuts to humanitarian aid to Yemen, which have only increased the war’s appalling toll.”

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