Khaled used to live in Taiz with his older brother Ibrahim, 2, and their parents. Since the beginning of the Yemeni conflict in March 2015, Taiz has been in an active battleground. The city has been besieged and the situation is worsening every day. The insecurity, coupled with the lack of access to basic services, such as safe drinking water, food or any source of income, has forced thousands of people to flee their homes. Most of Yemen’s hospitals and health centres are damaged, understaffed and lack adequate resources to treat people.
With few financial means and very poor access to commodities and food, Khaled’s family was living on the brink. Khaled soon became undernourished and started suffering from a range of medical complications, including diarrhoea and a high fever. His family took him to several private clinics and hospitals but Khaled’s situation didn’t improve. Instead, the boy gradually lost weight.
“He was resuscitated more than once in a rural hospital in Taiz Governorate,” his uncle said. “Unfortunately, he did not receive proper treatment due to the war.”
Khaled’s uncle, who lives in Al Jabin district, told his brother to join him there after the opening of Première Urgence Internationale’s stabilisation centre there in September 2016. The family followed his advice and brought Khaled in on a late September night in 2016. At the time of his admission, he wasn’t able to sit up, nor crawl or stand up, weighing only 4.3 kilos. A child his age should weigh at least 7 kilos.
Khaled remained under treatment in the centre for 10 days. After a few days, the boy regained a good appetite.
When his health improved, Khaled was discharged from the stabilisation centre and referred to the out-patient therapeutic program for follow-up treatment with Plumpy Sup, a vitamin enriched peanut-paste. After a few weeks, he was able to sit and stand with support, and has now returned home with his mother to a small house near the Al Jabin stabilisation centre. Khaled’s health has improved drastically and he has reached a healthy weight of 6.6 kg.
“Today, my nephew is in good health, thanks to God and the efforts of all the health workers,” his uncle said.
But life remains hard for the family. In order to find work, Khaled’s father had to immigrate to Saudi Arabia and is now able to send the family smaller sums of money on a regular basis.
More than two-thirds of the population – 17 million people – have plunged into hunger by the war with seven million people on the brink of starvation and depending entirely on humanitarian assistance. Until the war is over, people like Khaled will continue to suffer in Yemen.
*Names have been changes