More than half of Yemen’s 28 million people are already short of food, the UN has said, and children are particularly badly hit, with hundreds of thousands at risk of starvation.
There are 370,000 children enduring severe malnutrition that weakens their immune system, according to Unicef, and 1.5 million are going hungry. Food shortages are a long-term problem, but they have got worse in recent months. Half of children under five are stunted because of chronic malnutrition.
Oxfam’s humanitarian policy adviser, Richard Stanforth, said: “Everything is stacked against the people on the brink of starvation in Yemen…”
The first three years of life are crucial to a child’s development, according to a series of research papers published in the Lancet medical journal. Nearly 250 million young children across the world – 43% of under-fives – are unlikely to fulfil their potential as adults because of stunting and extreme poverty, new figures show. Those who do not get the nutrition, care and stimulation they need will earn about 26% less than others as adults.
In sub-Saharan Africa, 66% of children are estimated to be at risk of poor development because of stunting and poverty. In south Asia, the figure is 65%, and 18% in the Caribbean and South America. Unicef-World Bank figures show that almost 385 million children worldwide survive on less than $1.90 (£1.50) a day, the World Bank international poverty line.
Wanda Wyporska, executive director of the Equality Trust, said:
“It’s no surprise that the richer you are, the better your health is likely to be. But the chasm of health inequality between rich and poor has widened in recent years. Being born into a poor family shouldn’t mean decades of poorer health and even premature death, but that’s the shameful reality of the UK’s health gap. If you rank neighbourhoods in the UK from the richest to the poorest, you have almost perfectly ranked health from the best to the worst.”