This is the heartbreaking picture of a seven-year-old boy who has been plagued by hunger and weighs only 15 pounds.
The photo of Faid Samim, paralyzed and severely malnourished, reveals the gruesome reality of the “forgotten” Yemen war.
Little Faid lies curled up on a hospital bed in the Yemeni capital Sanaa after barely surviving the trip there.
Faid’s tiny, fragile body hardly takes up a quarter of a folded hospital blanket.
“He was almost gone when he got there, but thank God we were able to do what was necessary and he was starting to improve,” said Rageh Mohammed, senior doctor at Al-Sabeen Hospital’s malnutrition department.
“He has CP (cerebral palsy) and severe malnutrition.”
Faid’s family had to drive 105 miles through checkpoints and damaged roads to take him to the hospital.
The family cannot afford Faid’s medication or treatment and is dependent on donations to receive treatment.
Dr. Mohammed says cases of malnutrition are on the rise and impoverished parents are forced to rely on the friendliness of strangers or international help to get their children treated.
In Yemen, where, after a six-year war, 80% of the population are in need of help in what the United States claims is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, the famine was never officially declared.
Warnings from the United States in late 2018 of impending famine spurred aid to surge.
But coronavirus restrictions, reduced remittances, grasshoppers, floods and significant underfunding of 2020 relief efforts are exacerbating hunger.
The war in Yemen, in which a Saudi Arabia-led coalition has been fighting the Iranian-oriented Houthi movement since 2015, has killed more than 100,000 people and left the country divided. The Houthis hold Sanaa and most of the major urban centers. Reuters reports.
Why the Yemen War began – a timeline
In 2011, the Arab Spring protests undermined the rule of then President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The riot caused divisions in the army and enabled al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to conquer territories in the east.
In 2012, Saleh stepped down in a political transition plan supported by the Gulf States.
Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi became interim president and led a “national dialogue” to work out a more integrative federal constitution.
In 2013, AQAP survived military and drone attacks and carried out attacks across the country while remaining present.
The following year, with the help of Saleh, the Houthis conquered Sanaa, the capital of Yemen.
In 2015, Hadi attempted to announce a new federal constitution that was rejected by the Houthis and Saleh, who arrested him.
He escaped, pursued by the Houthis, and sparked a Saudi intervention in March with a hastily assembled Arab military coalition.
Months later, the coalition drove the Houthis and Saleh loyalists from Aden in southern Yemen and Marib, northeast of Sanaa, but the front lines solidified and led to years of stalemate.
Hunger grew in 2016 when the coalition placed a partial blockade on Yemen and accused Iran of smuggling rockets to the Houthis via Hodeidah in addition to importing food – which it has denied.
Coalition air strikes killing civilians sparked warnings from right-wing groups, but Western support for the military campaign continued.
In 2017, the Houthis missiles launched into Saudi Arabia.
Saleh saw an opportunity to regain power for his family by pulling away from his Houthi allies. He switched sides but was killed trying to escape them.
In 2018, coalition-backed forces advanced the Red Sea coast against the Houthis to capture the port of Hodeidah, the last major entry point for shipments into Northern Yemen.
In 2019, the conflict in Yemen showed no real signs of easing, and the civilian population continued to bear the brunt of the military hostilities and illegal practices by state and non-state armed groups.
By 2020 the war had killed more than 100,000 people.