Tears In A War-Torn Area
The malnourished bodies of children, reduced to skeleton and lying on the hospital beds, shock everyone! However, no one is able to change the situation. Now, those children are not even left with the strength to cry, as a British volunteer organisation has claimed that at least five million children are looking straight into the face of famine as a result of a Saudi-led military operation in Yemen. The organisation has said in a statement that the alliance is carrying out a major operation on an important Yemeni port and the operation severely affects the children.
The Saudi-led alliance wants to take possession of the port of Hodeida that was seized by the Huthis militants in 2014. According to the British organisation, oil and food prices will increase, if the military operation damages the port and prompts the concerned authority to shut down the port temporarily. In that case, another one million children will be in dire straits.
Save the Children International CEO Helle Thorning-Schmidt said: “Millions of children don’t know when or if their next meal will come. In one hospital I visited in north Yemen, the babies were too weak to cry, their bodies exhausted by hunger. This could be any hospital in Yemen.” She told the press: “What happens in Hodeidah has a direct impact on children and families right across Yemen. Even the smallest disruption to food, fuel and aid supplies through its vital port could mean death for hundreds of thousands of malnourished children unable to get the food they need to stay alive.”
Manal (name changed), a mother whose infant daughter has turned skeletal, stressed: “I could see her bones, I could not do anything for her. I had no money for transportation. I had to borrow some money to take Suha to the hospital far away from our village.” The mother added: “Most of the time, we eat two meals a day. In the morning, we eat bread with tea and for lunch, it’s potatoes and tomatoes. Usually, I don’t eat. I keep it for my children.”
Yemeni pro-government forces
For his part, Save the Children’s Country Director (Yemen) Tamer Kirolos said that the ongoing military operation could drive up the price of fuel. In that case, the families could not take their sick children to hospital, he added. According to Kirolos, the recent collapse of the Yemeni riyal triggered an increase in the price of food items. Although there are still plenty of foods in markets, a large number of Yemenis are unable to feed their families. Even, the prices of gasoline and cooking gas have increased by 25% in recent times, making it harder for people to travel and feed their families.
Meanwhile, the UN has said that further assaults on the port city could claim lives of up to 250,000 people. In a report, the world body said that around 70% of humanitarian aid passes through the Red Sea port. The military offensive in the Yemeni province began in June. However, the fighting stalled in Hodeidah for couple of months when the UN tried to bring warring parties to the negotiating table. The latest attempt was in Geneva in the first week of September. Unfortunately, the Houthis didn’t travel, with all sides blaming each other for obstructing the peace talks.
On September 22, UN Under-Secretary General (for Humanitarian Affairs) Mark Lowcock told the UN Security Council: “International aid agencies are losing the fight against famine in Yemen, where 3.5 million people may soon be added to the eight million Yemenis already facing starvation.” He expressed serious concern over the current scenario, insisting that the situation has deteriorated “in an alarming way in recent weeks” and the crisis might be approaching “a tipping point, beyond which it will be impossible to prevent massive loss of life“.
An ardent wish, naturally, is that the global community would strive for a quick end to this situation in an amicable manner……
In this connection, an age-old transcreated verse of great Indian poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) seems to be still relevant –
The whole world is suffering, Oh Lord!
Humanity crying for peace
Everyone wants to come back to life
Toil and tears want justice
People try to overcome the mirage
Lifeless rusty breakable tower
Your blessings drop just like verses
Like fearless Emerald Bower
Where is peace, Oh Lord!
One kills another’s opinion
Someone’s grudge makes a deep wound,
Dishonours the other’s religion.
The whole world is suffering, Oh Lord!
Please remove all ugly disgrace
Lack of enmity must live
We need an unarmed friendliness!
Creation: Rabindranath Tagore (Verse: Borisho dhara majhe)
Transcreation: Ms Swagatalakshmi Dasgupta)
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