As a brutal civil war stretches past its 19th month in Yemen, malnutrition is overwhelming millions in the Middle Eastern country, the poorest on the Arabian Peninsula. Many Yemenis have been displaced from their homes and food supplies coming into the country have been cut off because of the fighting, leading to dramatic food shortages and, in a word, famine. A staggering 14 million people — half of the country’s population — lack access to adequate food, Reuters reported this week, citing United Nations figures.
This week, Reuters published a story and photos of an emaciated young woman who’s become the face of the famine in Yemen amid the war between a Saudi-led coalition that’s supporting the government there and Iranian-backed rebel forces. Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, arrived at Al Thawra hospital a week ago. She’s completely bed-ridden, starving and suffering from severe malnutrition. Baghili is in such bad shape she’s unable to even eat, according to the Reuters report. Her diet consists only of juice, milk and tea, family members said, leading to a plunge in her body weight.
Baghili hails from a poor village outside of Hodeida, a city near the Red Sea controlled by rebels, according to iNews. She fell ill long before the fighting broke out, about five years ago, her aunt, Saida Ali Baghili, said. “Her father couldn’t (afford to) send her anywhere (for treatment) but some charitable people helped out,” Ali Baghili added.
“The problem is malnutrition due to (her) financial situation and the current (war) situation at this time,” Asma Al Bhaiji, a nurse at Al Thawra Hospital, told Reuters earlier this week.
On Thursday, The Times, a British daily newspaper, featured a photo of Baghili on its cover alongside the headline, “Millions starve in the ‘forgotten war’.”
More than 10,000 have died in Yemen since the war broke out, according to iNews. After Houthi rebels forced Yemen’s president, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, to flee the capital city of Sanaa in late 2014, Saudi Arabia stepped in and began providing military support in March of 2015 to help Hadi remain in power. Meanwhile, Iran has backed the Houthi insurgents, a move that has drawn criticism from some in the region. In Friday, Saudi Arabia said it intercepted a ballistic missile fired by the Houthis that was headed for the holy city of Mecca, according to Al Jazeera.