This Horrifying Photo Shows The Human Cost Of Yemen’s Civil War
The image of 5-month-old Udai Faisal in a hospital bed didn’t find its way on to newspaper front pages or go viral on the internet like the picture of Alan Kurdi’s drowned corpse did. Yet it is every bit as heartrending. The tiny boy’s wide eyes glare from his skeletal face, his bony hand closed just beneath his chin.
He was admitted to Yemen’s al-Sabeen hospital late last month, suffering from malnutrition, diarrhoea and a chest infection, which was where this photograph was taken. Two days later his parents took him out of the hospital. His father said it was because the doctors told him the situation was hopeless, but the head of the hospital’s emergency wardtold the Associated Press he didn’t think the family could afford the medication he needed.
A few days after the picture was taken, Udai died.
“He didn’t cry and there were no tears, just stiff,” his mother, Intissar Hezzam, said. “I screamed and fainted.”
Karlien Kleijier, an emergency manager for Médecins Sans Frontières (also known as Doctors Without Borders, or MSF) who has recently returned from the country, told BuzzFeed News Udai was clearly malnourished – and that the issue of hunger in Yemen was “very real”. According to a recent Unicef report, 320,000 children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition, and 1 million children are projected to suffer from moderate acute malnutrition.
“They need medical care – it’s a giant crisis,” Kleijier told BuzzFeed News. “The health system has collapsed.” Food and medical care had been in short supply before the crisis, according to Kleijier, but the situation has significantly worsened, in large part due to blockades. She said MSF had to increase its staff salaries by 50% in some areas just so they could buy food and supplies. Yemen imports 90% of its food and already had one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world, according to the AP.