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Yemen's villages starve as war enters fifth year

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 21, 2019 - Duration: 01:58s

Yemen's villages starve as war enters fifth year

As Yemen's war grinds into its fifth year with diplomatic efforts to resolve it stalling, ten-year-old Afaf's father sees little hope he will be able to give his starving daughter the food or healthcare she needs.

Francesca Lynagh reports.

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Yemen's villages starve as war enters fifth year

As Yemen's war grinds into its fifth year, children like 10-year-old Afaf, living in remote mountain villages, are starving.

Afaf is so malnourished that she hasn't been to school in two years.

She also has hepatitis - probably caused by infected water.

Her mother died from tuberculosis earlier this year, and her father struggles to feed his six children.

He says everything costs double what it did before the war.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) AFAF'S FATHER, HUSSEIN MOHAMMED, SAYING: "We don't get full like before.

I leave the food while I'm still hungry when I find there's little food left and the kids are still eating I leave the food (to them) so they're not hungry.

I'm able to wait with the hunger but they can't while we remain poor." The country's war and economic collapse has cut transport routes for aid, fuel and food, reduced imports and caused severe inflation.

Households have lost their incomes because public sector wages are not being paid and conflict has forced people from their homes and jobs.

According to the U.N., about 80 percent of the population needs some form of humanitarian assistance.

They say two-thirds of all districts in the country are in a "pre-famine" state.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the war to date.

But a major breakthrough came in December.

The Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the Iran-backed Houthis reached a ceasefire and troop withdrawal deal for Hodeidah - the country's main port.

The truce has largely held.

But troop withdrawal hasn't happened, due to deep mistrust on both sides and both parties blaming each other for lack of progress - risking U.N.

Efforts to hold another round of talks to try to end the conflict.

On Thursday (March 21), the U.S. ambassador to Yemen blamed the Houthis for stalling the peace deal and called on them to display ''a political maturity.''

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