Forgotten war in Yemen where a child dies every 12 minutes.

Lying on the floor of his makeshift shack in a refugee camp, disabled Abdul Nasser is close to tears as he tells how he and his family had to flee their home or starve to death.
The 83-year-old, wife Faza and their 25 grandchildren are yet more innocent victims of a civil war raging in Yemen that has caused what aid agencies call “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”.A child dies here from hunger every 12 minutes – that is 120 a day – in a famine as devastating as the Ethiopian one in 1984 that sparked the Live Aid concert. Staples such as milk and bread are now being described as “luxuries” But as millions of more people go hungry amid soaring food prices and military blockades, this has become the forgotten war which rarely features on our TVs.And one in which the Tories have been widely criticised for selling arms to Saudi Arabia, which is supporting Yemen’s ­government forces by bombing the Houthi fighters it is locked in battle with and blockading aid entry points. 


Thousands of civilians are being killed in this devastating conflict due to the fighting and cholera outbreaks. Abdul and his relatives had to flee their remote village and travel hundreds of miles across the front line, avoiding soldiers and landmines, before they arrived at the camp in Marib. He said: “Our family had no choice but to leave.“We had no food, it was dangerous, we would have starved to death.”Abdul is a broken man. He does not care who started the war that has been ravaging the country since 2014, he just knows it has shattered his once happy family life. As he talks, his grandchildren buzz around the place – unaware of how lucky they are to be alive. He watched fondly as the youngest, one-month-old Taiba, was cuddled by her sisters. Abdul, who is so frail he had to be carried from minibus to minibus during the perilous journey from his home in a Houthi-held region, added: “Before the war started we were a large happy peaceful family with no problems. “But now it impossible to survive living there. We were starving and we had to move. Even the food we had was taken from us to give to friends of the soldiers.“I cannot believe what has happened to Yemen and to my country.” A relative said: “We never thought we would end up living in a refugee camp.


“Life wasn’t easy before but at least we had some food. We did not go to bed hungry. We had to leave to survive. Everyone is hungry and everyone is struggling it’s a nightmare.“It’s not the sort of life you want your children and family to have.”We found three young mums who had also fled to the camp, in the government held region. One, Omahend from the capital Sanaa, said: “We were hungry all the time. The men are kidnapped and taken away so there’s no income coming in. The food prices are so shocking.“Even mothers I know are missing meals and going hungry just to give their children some food and they are still hungry anyway. We all have to make sacrifices every day for years. Things like bread and milk are like luxuries.“We would have some meat perhaps once every three months, and that’s if we were really, really lucky.”Another refugee, who asked not to be identified because he had family in the Houthi area, added: “People are dying from hunger. It’s not unusual. It’s become normal. There’s just not enough food.”Brit Sultana Begum, from Crouch End, North London, works for a charity in Sanaa where she has witnessed the appalling tragedy. She begged the world to help before it’s too late.


She said: “Yemenis are being starved. This is a man-made crisis. Starvation in Yemen is not an ­accident or caused by a natural ­phenomenon. There is no mistake about it. More than 20 million people across the country are hungry. A quarter of a million people are living in famine-like conditions and without humanitarian aid, these people will most likely have died of hunger.”UNICEF regional director Geert Cappelaere described Yemen as a “living hell” for children. And Lise Grande, UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen added: “I think many of us felt as we went into the 21st century that it was unthinkable we could see a famine like we saw in Ethiopia that was just unacceptable.“Many of us had the confidence that would never happen again and yet the reality is that in Yemen that is precisely what we are looking at.”According to the UN, of the 233,000 estimated deaths in Yemen, 102,000 will be war-related and 131,000 from ­malnutrition, cholera, and other diseases. In another shocking statistic, it said 140,000 children will have been killed since the start of the conflict. And by the time today is over another 100 will have been buried in makeshift graves across the land. This week there were the first signs of a possible move to peace with the Houthis promising to leave the key port of Hodeidah – where much of the aid comes in. But to compound the situation, al-Qaeda is growing in strength here – killing six in a bombing last Friday. A ­parliamentary report said British arms sales to Saudi Arabia are causing “significant civilian ­casualties” and “are probably illegal”.And former cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell said: “The UK has made a tremendous strategic misjudgment about this conflict.“As I saw for myself on the ground, the impact of what Britain and America, with French support, are doing in this conflict is radicalising tens of ­thousands of young Yemenis who know the great powers who are responsible for their misery, their starvation and the destruction of the basic infrastructure of their country.”“The government should halt arms sales to Saudi immediately, and we must throw our weight behind efforts to bring an end to the conflict.”Yemen is one of the poorest ­countries in the world – far below nations such as Somalia, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Sudan. But it is next door to oil-rich Saudi Arabia and not far from the British holiday favourite cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.