The Greatest Threat in Yemen

Yemen is back in the news here in the USA because the CIA has reportedly foiled a terrorist bomb plot hatched by the local al Qaeda affiliate. That’s welcome news, but there is an even more dire and pressing threat facing Yemen.

As I mentioned in today’s Top of the Morning, aid groups are sounding the alarm on a rapidly deteriorating situation in Yemen. Here are some statistics and figures, current as of yesterday, to chew on:

*966,848 children under five are suffering acute malnutrition. More than a quarter of these children may die if they do not receive immediate assistance. Children who survive may suffer from long term physical and intellectual disability for lack of proper nutrition.  $40 million is urgently needed to stem this nutrition crisis.

*There was a huge resurgence of measles late last year. In the upheavals of 2011, 20% of all the health facilities that provided childhood vaccinations shut down and measles quickly broke out. 5,500 children were infected and nearly 200 died from measles. OCHA says that this outbreak is now under control thanks to the intervention of UN partners.

*There is little money available for humanitarian response. In all, the international community has kicked in $189 million, which represents about 42% of what the UN says is required to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of Yemeni people. The top funders are Germany (about $30 million) and the USA (about $28 million). But there is still a funding gap of $265 million–and that is why hundreds of thousands of children may starve to death.

The slow burn of a humanitarian crisis may never garner the attention of a drone strike or foiled terrorist plot. But if we are to believe that every life is equal, the single greatest “threat” posed by Yemen is the imminent starvation of hundreds of thousands of Yemeni children.