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Aid agencies say Yemen is the world's largest humanitarian crisis

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The images out of Syria are graphic and devastating. Over the last few years, pictures have emerged of bloodied bodies and children who have been cut and burned, the wreckage of a war they did not start.

While Syria has received international attention for its civil war and the havoc brought by ISIS, another country in the Middle East suffers almost silently. Aid agencies are calling the humanitarian crisis in Yemen the worst in the world.

Yemen is a small country situated on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is largely influenced by its neighbors Saudi Arabia in the north and Oman in the east. Since 2015, the fragile country has been rocked by its own civil war, with one faction loyal to Yemeni politician Abdrabbu Mansur Hadi, and opposing Houthi forces loyal to former President Ali Abdulla Saleh. The intercountry fighting and continued attacks from al Qaeda and ISIS have left Yemen's citizens suffering from poverty-related diseases like malnutrition, cholera and acute watery diarrhea.

"Yemen is being destroyed," said Anthony Lake, executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). "As I said, both in its physical infrastructure and even more in its people and in its next generation.”

The United Nations Office for the Corrdination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) released a report in April estimating that 20.7 million people in the country -- 10.3 million who are children -- are in serious need of assistance. "The situation in Yemen is worsening and more people are suffering and dying at the hands of a conflict that is using deliberate tactics to inflict suffering on civilians and to collapse community and institutional safety-nets that sustain life," the report said.

For reference, here are other fast facts from the report:

  • There are 3.11 million internally displaced persons and returnees still in the country.
  • 9.8 million people in dire need.
  • 24 million people are living in areas of high risk of cholera transmission.
  • 17 million people suffering from food insecurity.

The report found that, since January, humanitarian partners have reached 4.3 million people out of the total target population of 11.9 million. This is progress, but aid agencies still argue that more needs to be done to help and protect the Yemeni people.

"Stop the war... I've worked in diplomacy and now with UNICEF," said Lake. "I've never met an official who wasn't a human being. As human beings, they need to meet their responsibility to stop it, to abide by the rules of international humanitarian law, and have, again, a sense of self-interest that why would they want to destroy the country they hope some day to rule."

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