CAIRO — In a remote pocket of northern Yemen, many families with starving children have nothing to eat but the leaves of a local vine, boiled into a sour, acidic green paste. International aid agencies have been caught off guard by the extent of the suffering there as parents and children waste away.

The main health center in Aslam district was flooded with dozens of emaciated children during a recent visit by the Associated Press. Excruciatingly thin toddlers, eyes bulging, sat in a plastic washtub used in a make-shift scale as nurses weighed each one. Their papery skin was stretched tight over pencil-like limbs and knobby knees. Nurses measured their forearms, just a few centimeters in diameter, marking the worst stages of malnutrition.

At least 20 children are known to have died of starvation already this year in the province that includes the district, more than three years into the country’s ruinous civil war. The real number is likely far higher, since few families report it when their children die at home, officials say.

In a nearby village, a 7-month-old girl, Zahra, cries and reaches with her bony arms for her mother to feed her. Her mother is undernourished herself and is often unable to breastfeed Zahra.

“Since the day she was born, I have not had the money to buy her milk or buy her medicine,” the mother said.

Zahra was recently treated at the heath center. At home, she’s dwindling away again, and her parents can’t afford to hire a car or motorbike to take her back to the clinic.

If they don’t, Zahra will die, said Mekkiya Mahdi, the health center chief.

“We are in the 21st century, but this is what the war did to us,” Mahdi said. She said she tours Aslam’s villages and, after seeing people living off the leaf paste, …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

      

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