Half a million children starving in Yemen

23 December 2016

500,000 children are starving in Yemen. Photo credit: Al Jurani, Disaster Emergency Committee, UK

Today in Yemen is one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises – yet it is rarely in the eye of the international media.

In the midst of a terrible conflict, more than 7 million people in Yemen do not know where their next meal will come from. Children are dying from malnutrition. 500,000 children are starving and 3 million people have fled their homes. Now half of the population – 14.4 million people – require help with food.

There is an urgent need for support to get nutrition to babies and young children so they can survive – as well as medicines, safe water, sanitation, hygiene kits and other essential items for the wider population.

Some humanitarian agencies, including Christian Aid and Tearfund, are working with local partners to reach millions of people across the country with lifesaving support, but much more must be done to bring aid and save lives.

Despite the challenges of delivering aid in the midst of conflict, much is getting through working via local groups so that it reaches those in critical need on both sides of the conflict.

Below we list ways in which you can pray for and support the people of Yemen at this time of crisis.

The Venerable Canon Bill Schwartz, Archdeacon of the Gulf, with oversight of the Church in Yemen, wrote yesterday to the Anglican Alliance:

“The people of Yemen are victims of political aspirations of their own leaders and countries nearby, and are suffering immensely because of this civil war. It is heart breaking to live with the fact that so little can be done until the factions stop fighting, but at the same time it is essential that aid and development plans are in place so that help can be offered when it becomes possible.

“Please pray for wisdom, cooperation, and coordination between the various governmental and non-governmental organisations who CAN work together to minister to the needy in Yemen,” Archdeacon Bill added.

Since 1996 Christ Church, Aden, the Anglican church in Yemen, has operated the charitable Ras Morbat Clinic to serve the poorest. Both Yemenis and refugees have been healed in the medical clinic and had their sight restored in the eye department.

The eye department has also been working with UNHCR, providing eye care to Somali refugees. The clinic has also served as a training institution for health care students.

As a Yemeni doctor said in a video about the clinic: “This is a charity place. We are working for people who really need it.”

The Ras Morbat Clinic was forced to close early in 2015 due to the conflict and insecurity. It opened four months later in August 2015 and has been treating both its normal patient load and many who have been wounded in the fighting and in explosions from the landmines left behind.

The Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf is looking for support for the work of the clinic to continue, bringing hope and healing to those in desperate need of care.

Even before the recent conflict Yemen was one of the world’s least developed countries and the poorest and most rural country in the Middle East. The conflict, with deadly airstrikes and fighting on the ground, has led to the destruction of infrastructure, including healthcare. It has brought the Yemeni people to a point of total crisis, with famine looming.

Unicef reports that right now 2.2 million children in Yemen are malnourished.

Unicef writes: “Yemen is facing a major humanitarian crisis. Four years of unrest – in addition to the current conflict – has left children and families in urgent need of food, water, medical supplies and safe places for children to learn and play. The health system is near collapse.”

“More than 19 million people lack access to clean water and sanitation facilities, whilst 14.1 million people are in desperate need of basic health care. The crisis is having a devastating effect on children’s lives. Nowhere in Yemen is safe for children. Even sleeping and playing are now dangerous.”

Unicef estimates that nearly 10,000 children under 5 may have died from preventable diseases in the past year alone. Along with other agencies, Unicef is striving to bring much needed aid.

Please pray for the peace in Yemen, for its people and the ministry of the Church.

Archdeacon Bill Scharwtz wrote: “It is always encouraging to find people who are interested in the work of the church in Yemen, and our clinic in Aden in particular.” He called on friends from across the Anglican Communion and beyond to pray:

  • for peace
  • for peacebuilders, who are few
  • for conviction among those who exploit others for their personal gain
  • for the starving children
  • for the forgotten homeless millions
  • that there will be a will to help rebuild the country, the people, and the church in Aden – when the senseless violence ceases.

“We do appreciate all of the prayer support you can encourage among friends,” Archdeacon Bill added.

If you would like to support the work of the Ras Morbat Clinic, please make a donation via the Diocesan web page.   Donors are requested to send an email to the diocesan financial officer (finance.officer@cypgulf.org) to state that your donation is designated for the Ras Morbat Clinic.

If you would like to support the wider humanitarian response, here are some links to appeals by Christian agencies:

Christian Aid

ACT Alliance – which is supporting refugees arriving in Djibouti from Yemen. Many Anglican agencies, including in Canada and Australia, are members of the ACT Alliance.


Thank you for your prayers and support at this crucial time for the people of Yemen.