Images reveal Yemenis faced starvation through Ramadaan as humanitarian crisis grows
- Locals across Yemen have been fasting in observance of the Islamic holy month of Ramadaan.
- Many have been relying on food assistance from aid organizations to get by.
- The country is going through one of the worst humanitarian crises of modern times.
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For the past month, locals across Yemen fasted for the Islamic Holy month of Ramadaan but many faced starvation brought on by a worsening humanitarian crisis after six years of war.
Annabel Symington, a spokesperson for the World Food Programme, told Insider last month that many families who try to get food assistance said they were in a "perpetual fast" even before Ramadaan began.
"'We're already fasting every day.' They'd sort of say 'we observe Ramadaan in prayer only now.' Obviously, Ramadan has not in any way lost its importance for them as observant Muslims, but in terms of their ability to prepare iftar in the way they want, to prepare suhoor (pre-dawn meal) in the way they want that's gone."
The holy month, where many enjoy large gatherings to break their fasts, has been altered by the raging civil war and the pandemic.
Symington said many Yemeni are no longer able to enjoy their favourite foods and snacks or even basic goods since the costs of good has significantly gone up since the war started.
"Their favourite treats are either no longer available in Yemen or just so expensive that they wouldn't get it. Prices through the six years of war have increased up to 200% in some cases," Symington said.
Symington said a single mother of three whose husband was killed told her: "We will spend a Ramadaan with only this food assistance and pray to God for help."
The humanitarian crisis continues to be fuelled by fighting between Houthi rebels and fighters backed by Saudi Arabia.
In March 2015, Saudi Arabia launched an offensive against the rebel Houthi movement, which tried to overthrow the legitimate Yemeni government in 2014. Saudi Arabia has used the fact that the Houthis are backed by Iran as justification for their involvement.
In the past month, as many in the country observed Ramadaan, Houthi rebels clashed with government forces.
The Houthis have been advancing to take control of the city of Marib, which is rich in oil, the Middle East Eye reported.
Last month, the World Food Programme said around 400,000 children could die in Yemen by the end of this year without urgent intervention.
Roughly one child dies every 75 seconds.
An analysis by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), a global authority on food security, found that at least 16 million people are living in either "crisis" or "emergency" food security conditions.
Beyond the humanitarian crisis, thousands of families in the town of Tarim affected by floods that started in mid-April.
167 families either had their homes partially or completely damaged and four people died in Tarim in a single day earlier this month, the BBC reported
The town of Yarim also flooded and parts of the capital Sana'a were also cut off with floodwater, causing worry about the spread of water-borne disease.
The country is also dealing with decaying and limited healthcare infrastructure and a re-emergence of communicable diseases like cholera, diphtheria, and dengue fever.
Al Jazeera reported that Yemen saw a dramatic rise in coronavirus cases this year but many in the country are very hesitant to get vaccinated.
"We have received 70,000 doses in Taiz and we started the vaccination campaign on April 21," Rajeh al-Maliki, head of Yemen's health ministry in Taiz.
"We can fairly say that there is very little interest … we have distributed around 500 shots since we started, it is less than we expected," Maliki said told Al Jazeera.
The country of 29 million has reported more than 6 million Covid-19 infections with over 1,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Al Jazeera reported that many were hesitant to get vaccinated either due to religious concerns that the shot may break their fasts or general distrust in the vaccine.
"People are afraid because there is a lot of misinformation out there, especially on social media," Dr. Sarah Damaj said.
For many, it is a matter of not having easy access to hospitals.
In the city of Taiz, Al Jazeera reported that those living in Houthi-controlled neighborhoods have to travel as far as 50 kilometres to the government-controlled hospital and must pass through checkpoints and snipers.
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