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Severe malnutrition on the rise among children in Abs, northern Yemen

Since the beginning of the year, MSF has been treating increasing numbers of severely malnourished patients at Abs Hospital, in the Hajjah governorate of northwestern Yemen. While there are always annual peaks in malnutrition, cases in Abs re up 41% on the same period last year.

Hamdi is not yet two years old, but this is already his second time as a patient at the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Abs Hospital, in northern Yemen. The first time he was five months old. Now, just over a year later, he is suffering from severe malnutrition with pneumonia. His eyelids are swollen, he has a constant cough and he has a hard time breathing. His family has lived in a country at war for the past six years, while he has known war for his entire life.

Hamdi is one of more than a hundred children that MSF has treated at the Abs Inpatient Therapeutic Feeding Centre since the beginning of the year. Most of them are under five years old and all are suffering from severe malnutrition.

Severe malnutrition is associated with a host of other health problems that can be fatal for babies and young children if left untreated. 

“There are many reasons why we are seeing malnourished children in Abs, but most of them are connected to the brutal, six-year long conflict that has plagued Yemen since 2015. The war has decimated the economy here, destroying livelihoods so that people can no longer afford food to feed their families or fuel to travel to seek work or medical care. Many public sector staff - including medical workers - haven’t been paid in years. Prices are constantly rising: without humanitarian aid, many families would not eat at all.” says Muriel Boursier, MSF’s Head of Mission in Yemen

“The vast majority of the population in Abs relies on humanitarian aid for survival, but in spite of this clear need it is a constant challenge for humanitarian organizations to reach the most vulnerable populations. The humanitarian response lacks continuity, is insufficient, and underfunded”.

MSF calls on parties to the conflict, and the humanitarian community of donors and organizations, to ensure that families can access food and essential services, and that humanitarian assistance reaches those in acute need.

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Emma Parkin Features and Documentaries Manager
Emma Parkin Features and Documentaries Manager
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