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Malnutrition Strikes Yemenis Trapped by Civil War

One 18-year-old's dire condition punctuates the humanitarian crisis afflicting the civilian population in Yemen.

Saida Ahmad Baghili, an 18-year-old Yemeni woman stands at the al-Thawra hospital where she is receiving treatment for severe malnutrition on Oct. 25, in an impoverished coastal village on the outskirts of the rebel-held Yemeni port city of Hodeida, where malnutrition has hit the population hard.

 

 

Baghili's suffering shows stark evidence of the malnutrition spread by Yemen's 19-month civil war.

STRINGER / AFP - Getty Images

Baghili is carried by her cousin. Baghili arrived at the Al Thawra hospital on Saturday. She is bed-ridden and unable to eat, surviving on a diet of juice, milk and tea, medical staff and a relative said.

 

 

"The problem is malnutrition due to (her) financial situation and the current (war) situation at this time," Asma Al Bhaiji, a nurse at the hospital, told Reuters on Tuesday. The 18-year-old is one of more than 14 million people, over half of Yemen's population, who suffer from food shortages, with much of the country on the brink of famine, according to the United Nations.

ABDULJABBAR ZEYAD / Reuters
Nurses attend to Baghili. The UN's children agency UNICEF estimates that three million people are in need of immediate food supplies in Yemen, while 1.5 million children suffer from malnutrition. ABDULJABBAR ZEYAD / Reuters
Baghili is from the small village of Shajn, about 60 miles southwest of the city of Hodaida, and used to work with sheep before developing signs of malnutrition five years ago, according to her aunt, Saida Ali Baghili. "She was fine. She was in good health. There was nothing wrong with her. And then she got sick," Ali Baghili told Reuters. "She has been sick for five years. She can't eat. She says her throat hurts." STRINGER / AFP - Getty Images

After the war began, Baghili's condition deteriorated with her family lacking the money for treatment. She lost more weight and in the last two months developed diarrhea. "Her father couldn't (afford to) send her anywhere (for treatment) but some charitable people helped out," Ali Baghili said, without elaborating who the donors were.

 

 

Baghili's picture is a reminder of the humanitarian crisis in the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country where at least 10,000 people have been killed in fighting between Saudi-led Arab coalition and the Iran-allied Houthi movement.

STRINGER / AFP - Getty Images