One in five children across the Middle East and North Africa needs humanitarian aid

 

One in five children across the Middle East and North Africa needs humanitarian aid

A boy suffering from measles receives treatment at Al-Jumhouri Hospital, Sa’ada, Yemen Sa’ada, Yemen, Thursday 21 July 2016.

As of November 2016, almost two years of conflict in Yemen have left 18.8 million people - some 70 per cent of the population - in need of humanitarian assistance. After the United Nations-backed peace talks were suspended in August 2016, airstrikes and hostilities intensified and civilians are paying the price. Close to 4,000 civilians have died as a direct result of the conflict, including 1,332 children. At least 14.5 million people lack access to safe water and sanitation and 14.8 million have limited or no access to health services, compounding a cholera crisis that has put 7.6 million people at risk. The nutrition situation has deteriorated, with 3.3 million children and pregnant or lactating women suffering from acute malnutrition and more than 460,000 children under 5 suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM). The near collapse of national services has left an estimated 2 million children out of school. Almost 2.2 million internally displaced persons, nearly half of them children, as well as 1 million returnees and many host communities are also in need of assistance. Ongoing conflict and the deteriorating economic situation have put essential public services such as health on the verge of collapse, leaving children and women at even higher risk.

© UNICEF/UN050316/Farid

A boy suffering from measles receives treatment at Al-Jumhouri Hospital, Sa’ada, Yemen Sa’ada, Yemen, Thursday 21 July 2016.

Over 90 per cent are in conflict-affected countries- UNICEF New Analysis.

AMMAN/HONG KONG, 11 September 2017 – Nearly one in five children across the Middle East and North Africa need immediate humanitarian assistance, according to latest data and analysis. Over 90 per cent of these children live in countries affected by conflict.

“Conflict continues to rob millions of girls and boys of their childhood. Decades of progress are at a risk of being reversed across the Middle East and North Africa,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director.

Children have been hit hardest by ongoing years of violence, displacement and lack of basic services. Civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, energy, water, sanitation and hygiene installations have often come under attack, exposing children to the risk of death and diseases.

Millions of families were forced to flee their homes – some multiple times and under fire. Continued violence and displacement have increasingly made it difficult for children and families to cope.

“With no end in sight to these conflicts and with families’ dwindling financial resources, many have no choice but to send their children to work or marry their daughters early. The number of children affiliated with the fighting has more than doubled” said Cappelaere.

According to the latest analysis:

• Inside Syria and in refugee hosting countries, almost 12 million Syrian children require humanitarian assistance – up from half a million in 2012. An estimated 2 million children live in hard-to-reach or besieged areas in Syria have received limited humanitarian assistance over the years.
• In Yemen, the fighting has destroyed water and sanitation systems, sparking the world’s worst cholera and acute watery diarrhea outbreak with over 610,000 suspected cases to date. More than half of Yemen’s health facilities are out of service and water systems have been destroyed, cutting off almost 15 million people from safe water and access to basic healthcare.
• Across Iraq, more than 5 million children are in need of assistance as heavy fighting intensified including in Mosul and recently in Tel-Afar. They need water, food and shelter and education.
• In the Gaza Strip, an ongoing electricity crisis has reduced access to water by 30 per cent. Cases of diarrhea among young children have doubled in just three months.

“Children in the Middle East and North Africa region have undergone unprecedented levels of violence and witnessed horrors that no one should witness. If violence and wars continue, the consequences- not only for the region- but for the world as a whole will be dire. World leaders must do much more to put an end to violence for the sake of boys and girls and their future” said Cappelaere.