Mercy Corps: Yemen's Children Starved by War

Share Article

Malnutrition worsens as conflict hits one-year mark

Families were struggling to put food on the table before the crisis began.

Almost a year into the country’s civil war, one in four Yemeni children is malnourished and food insecurity is on the rise, according to information gathered by the global organization Mercy Corps. As the conflict drives price increases for essential food items, even more children are likely to become hungry in the months ahead.

“Families were struggling to put food on the table before the crisis began. Now the war in Yemen has forced people throughout the country to flee their homes, close their businesses and deplete their savings,” says Jonathan Bartolozzi, Director of Programs for Mercy Corps. “In particular, we are concerned for the children of the country, who in many cases face life-threatening illnesses due to malnutrition.”

Recent Mercy Corps surveys of children under the age of five have shown Global Acute Malnutrition rates of about 28 percent, compared to pre-war levels in the same age group of 13 to 17 percent. In Taiz governorate, Mercy Corps recorded overall child malnutrition rates higher than 30 percent. A malnutrition rate above 15 percent constitutes an emergency condition, according to the World Health Organization.

Yemeni families are reporting that they are reducing the number of meals eaten each day, limiting portion sizes at mealtimes and resorting to eating lower quality, less expensive and less varied food.

“Malnutrition has the potential for far-reaching implications without dedicated, focused intervention from the global community,” says Bartolozzi. “Greater humanitarian access and an end to the war are needed to ensure a better future for Yemeni children.”

Malnutrition is often exacerbated by poor hygiene practices, including the use of unclean water. Most Yemenis get clean water from underground pumps that require fuel to operate. Yemen imports approximately 70 percent of its fuel, and since the onset of the conflict, supplies have diminished. Mercy Corps has seen steep increases in the cost of fuel as well as most other essentials.

Since 2010, Mercy Corps has been working in Yemen to meet the emergency needs of families affected by political instability and violence, improve families’ ability to weather recurring shocks, rehabilitate community infrastructure and provide youth with support to become active, contributing members of society.

To support Mercy Corps’ work in Yemen and elsewhere in the world, join us at

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Christy Delafield
Mercy Corps
+1 202 394 1712
Email >
Visit website