Child Marriage Soars as Famine Hits Yemen–USA Needs to Fight the Famine and Save the Children


Child Marriage Soars as Famine Hits Yemen, UN Finds

By Gabriella Canal| March 28, 2017

Brought to you by: CHIME FOR CHANGE

As Yemen teeters on the brink of famine and war ravages the country, UNICEF warned on Monday, children are left paying the heaviest price.

More than two thirds of young girls are married off before the age of 18, compared to half before the conflict escalated two years ago, the report found.

As poverty skyrockets and resources become depleted, families are resorting to marrying off their daughters. They believe that doing so will either reduce costs or offer their daughters better protection with the husband’s family.

Read More: Yemen’s Famine Is Beyond ‘the Point of No Return,’ UN Agency Warns

“One of the first casualties when families are displaced and lose their incomes is girls,” UNICEF’s spokesman in Yemen, Rajat Madhok, told Reuters.

Yemen has long been one of the few countries in the region with no legal minimum age of marriage. But now with around 80% of families in debt and half the population living off of less than $2 a day, more and more young girls are facing early marriage.

For families struggling to survive, dowry payments — traditionally paid by the husband’s family— help alleviate conflict-related hardships.

Read More: Meet 6 Child Brides Who Stood Up for What’s Right

Gender-based violence, UNICEF added, has increased by over 63%.

Young girls forced into marriage face the risk of death from rape injuries and childbirth complications. As their bodies are not yet fully developed, these complications are the second cause of death among young girls globally.

For one young girl, Bilkis, child marriage became a reality at the age of 13 when she was forced to marry as the conflict intensified.

“I was a child who was not mentally and physically able to be a wife,” she painfully recalled. “I was warned not to do anything that children do. Through the window, I could watch other children play.”

Aid agencies have warned that the famine in Yemen is now at “the point of no return.”

The violence broke out in 2015 when the Houthi rebel movement refused to recognize Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi as Yemen’s succeeding president.

Years of fighting along the Red Sea coast has caused damage to Al Hudaydah — Yemen’s largest port — disrupting imports that account for 90% of Yemen’s regular food supply.

An estimated 17 million people are at ‘emergency’ or ‘crisis’ levels of food insecurity. Another 6.8 million are only steps away from slipping into famine, according to a recent UN report.

Yemen’s health and education systems are also on the verge of collapse.

Read More: Education is life for Yemeni children

Thousands of children have dropped out of school, many young boys are being recruited for war, and 2.2 million children suffer from malnourishment.

Yemen’s children are in dire need of humanitarian aid. To do nothing is to ignore an entire generation.

“The war in Yemen continues to claim children’s lives and their future,” said Meritxell Relaño, UNICEF Representative in Yemen. “Relentless fighting and destruction has scarred children for life.”


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About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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2 Responses to Child Marriage Soars as Famine Hits Yemen–USA Needs to Fight the Famine and Save the Children

  1. eslkevin says:

    Just Foreign Policy
    Dear Kevin,

    At Just Foreign Policy, when we try to stop a U.S. military assault, we turn every stone to try to accomplish that task. The task we’ve set ourselves now is stopping the U.S. government from enabling a Saudi-UAE attack on the Yemeni port of Hodeida, which the UN, aid groups, and former U.S. officials say would likely push Yemen into famine.

    Here’s the stone we’re trying to turn today: get Hillary Clinton to come out against the proposed attack. That would help move Democrats in Congress to oppose it. And we have the perfect venue for her to do it. On Thursday, she’s being interviewed by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. Kristof shares our opposition to U.S. support of the Saudi war and blockade of Yemen. And he’s soliciting questions online. Here’s two ways you can help:

    1. Go “recommend” my question for Hillary on Yemen at this link at the New York Times. [Look to the upper right corner of the page to see my question.]

    2. Urge Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden – who is reportedly very close to Hillary – to ask Hillary to oppose a U.S. attack on Hodeida by re-tweeting my tweet to Neera Tanden.
    Finally, if you haven’t yet asked your Representative to sign the Pocan-Amash letter demanding that President Trump come to Congress before launching this attack, you can call your Representative now toll-free thanks to the Friends Committee on National Legislation at this link.

    Thanks for all you do to help make U.S. foreign policy more just,

    Robert Naiman
    Just Foreign Policy

    Help support our work!
    If you think our work is important, support us with a $17 donation.
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    © 2016 Just Foreign Policy

  2. eslkevin says:

    Dear Kevin,
    Last week I met with a Yemeni pro-democracy activist and he put it simply – “If the US intervenes in Yemen, they will be led into a black hole.” Yet we just learned that is exactly what the Trump administration is considering.
    Will you call your Representative and urge them to stop the U.S. from escalating war in Yemen?
    We’re at a key fork in the road on Yemen. Millions are on the brink of famine and more than two years of war have cost tens of thousands of lives. [1] Yet instead of working for peace, Secretary of Defense Mattis wants America to double down on war. He has reportedly proposed a military intervention alongside Saudi and Emirati forces to attack the Yemeni port of al-Hudaydah. [2] The results would be devastating and the human toll, almost unimaginable. President Obama reportedly rejected a similar plan, but now Donald Trump’s White House is considering Mattis’ proposal THIS WEEK.
    Thankfully a bipartisan group of US Congress Members – Mark Pocan (D-WI), Justin Amash (R-MI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Walter B. Jones (R-NC) – are stepping up to fight back. They are asking their colleagues to join them in making clear that any plans for America to go to war against the Houthis in Yemen requires congressional approval. [3] The Constitution is crystal clear: only Congress has the power to make this decision, but if we don’t stand up, Donald Trump may just ignore that simple truth. Members of Congress are deciding whether to join this letter right now, and they need to hear from you!
    Can you take 2 minutes to call your Representative and urge them to sign the Pocan-Amash letter on war in Yemen?
    Just days ago, you joined over 52,000 of us in demanding General Mattis come clean on Trump’s plans for war. Our call was based on the fundamental principle that Congress decides when America goes to war so that the American people can have our say. That’s why the Pocan-Amash letter is so important. It’s about defending our right to veto a dangerous plan like more American war in Yemen. Now we need to make sure that Congress hears our voices and acts to stop this imminent attack.
    To call, simply dial 1-855 68 NO WAR (1-855-686-6927) and you will be connected to the US Congress Capitol’s automated switchboard. Here’s a sample script to get you started:
    My name is Kevin Stoda, and I’m a constituent. I’m calling to ask the Representative to sign on to the Pocan-Amash letter, urging President Trump to seek authorization from Congress before escalating the war in Yemen. Can I count on the Representative to sign on?
    The looming military operation on al-Hudaydah would devastate the region, creating a humanitarian catastrophe, prolonging Yemen’s war, and further weakening American security. More than 70 percent humanitarian aid comes through the port city, and its destruction would severely worsen Yemen’s famine, killing untold numbers of people, and further destabilizing the country. [4] This is precisely the kind of fuel that fans the flames of violent extremists– creating more threats to America, while leading to immense human suffering in Yemen.
    Timing is of the essence. Can you call 1-855 68 NO WAR and urge your Representative to sign TODAY the bipartisan Pocan-Amash Letter to urge President Trump to seek authorization from Congress before further escalating the war in Yemen?
    Our movement is about stopping exactly these kinds of short-sighted and deadly policies. We know that America is never safer when we take actions that fuel human suffering. One of the best ways to fight back is to ensure our voices are heard in Washington, and one way we do that is by defending our democratic right to have a say in these decisions. Every time we take an action like this, we are taking an important step towards reclaiming our power and building a better America and a better world.
    Thank you for working for peace,
    Michelle, Stephen, Mariam, Amy and the Win Without War team
    P.S. Please let us know how your call went by clicking here to report back!


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