Years of fighting in a civil war that has been internationalized has ground Yemen’s economy to a halt. The importation of food and fuel has been weaponized by the belligerents, causing increasing levels of acute malnutrition, particularly among children
In early November, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres sought to stir international attention and action to avert a looming famine.
“Yemen is now in imminent danger of the worst famine the world has seen for decades. In the absence of immediate action, millions of lives may be lost.
This arises from the combination of a drastic reduction in funding for the UN-coordinated relief operation this year compared to 2018 and 2019, a failure to sustain external support for Yemen’s economy, especially in stabilizing the value of the Yemeni Rial, and the impact of the ongoing conflict and impediments imposed by powerful Yemeni and other parties on the life-saving work of humanitarian agencies. Locusts and floods compound these problems.
I urge all those with influence to act urgently on these issues to stave off catastrophe, and I also request that everyone avoids taking any action that could make the already dire situation even worse.
Failing that, we risk a tragedy not just in the immediate loss of life but with consequences that will reverberate indefinitely into the future.”
His warnings have so far, not been heeded.
What a hunger crisis looks like, up close and personal
Earlier this year, filmmaker Skye Fitzgerald documented heroic efforts by doctors and health workers fight acute malnutrition that is inflicting children in Yemen. His new film “Hunger Ward” gives viewers a vivid account of how the war in Yemen is causing widespread starvation and malnutrition among Yemeni children. The film depicts healthcare providers in two separate hospitals who specialize in treating acute malnutrition in children. In both cases, specially trained doctors and nurses fight malnutrition, one child at a time. It is an intense but vital film that in may ways that humanizes statements like this one from the Secretary General.
I speak with Skye Fitzgerald about the film and what he hoped to achieve by making a documentary about these two Hunger Wards.