'Hope' dies in Yemen | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 03, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:24 AM, November 03, 2018

'Hope' dies in Yemen

  • Starvation and disease kill a Yemeni child every 10 minutes 
  • 1.8 million children malnourished


News of death is nothing new in Yemen where starvation and disease kill a Yemeni child in every 10 minutes. But few deaths do shake us, like the death of Aylan Kurdi whose lifeless body on the shore of Turkey brought global attention to the migrant crisis triggered by brutal wars in Middle East.

Last week, The New York Times posted a photo of a starving girl, 7-year-old Amal Hussain, lying silently on a hospital bed in northern Yemen.

The haunted look in the eyes of the girl drew an impassioned response from readers. Amal is Arabic for “hope,” and some readers expressed hope that the graphic image of her distress could help galvanize attention on the war.

On Thursday, Amal's family said she had died at a ragged refugee camp four miles from the hospital.

“My heart is broken,” said her mother, Mariam Ali. But she feared her other children may follow Amal too.

Geert Cappelaere, Middle East director for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), yesterday described "heart-breaking" scenes of emaciated children in hospitals.

"We have evidence that today in Yemen every 10 minutes a child under the age of 5 is dying from preventable diseases and severe acute malnutrition," he told Reuters from Hodeidah.

The United Nations says about 14 million people, or half Yemen's population, could soon be on the brink of famine in a man-made disaster. Already 1.8 million Yemeni children are malnourished, Cappelaere said.

Amal was discharged from the hospital last week, still sick, to make way for new patients.  The family took Amal back home, to a hut fashioned from straw and plastic sheeting, at a camp where relief agencies do provide some help, including sugar and rice. But it was not enough to save Amal.

Her condition deteriorated, with frequent bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, her mother said. On Oct. 26, three days after she was discharged from the hospital, she died.

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