Reduced to skin and bones by civil war: Twelve-year-old girl weighs just 22 pounds – the same as a typical toddler – as Yemen fighting drives people to the brink of famine

February 15, 2019 in News by Slad

 

Source: Daily Mail

 

  • WARNING: DISTRESSING CONTENT 
  • Fatima Qoba, 12, weighed just 22lbs when she brought to clinic in Yemen – one of ten million facing famine
  • Family of 12 forced to flee their home during civil war, and now live under a tree with their unemployed father

These heartwrenching images of a 12-year-old starving girl, so weak she has to be carried by her sister, shows just one of millions of victims of Yemen’s civil war.

Fatima Qoba weighs just 22lbs – no more than an average toddler – and years of starvation has left her with paper-thin skin stretched over her bones.

She is receiving treatment at a malnutrition clinic in Hajjah, northwest Yemen, after her desperate sibling brought her there, fearing she would die.

Displaced by war, starving and living under a tree, 12-year-old Fatima Qoba weighed just 22lbs when she was carried into a Yemeni malnutrition clinic by her sister

Starving: Fatima is one of ten million Yemenis brought to the brink of famine by the civil war 

Starving: Fatima is one of ten million Yemenis brought to the brink of famine by the civil war

Wasting away: A photo of the 12-year-old shows her skin stretched over her shoulder-blades and spine 

Wasting away: A photo of the 12-year-old shows her skin stretched over her shoulder-blades and spine

‘All the fat reserves in her body have been used up, she is left only with bones,’ Makiah al-Aslami, a doctor and head of the clinic says.

‘She has the most extreme form of malnutrition.’

Fatima’s slide into starvation is typical of what is happening in much of Yemen, where war and economic collapse have driven around ten million people to the brink of famine, according to the United Nations.

Aslami said she is expecting more and more malnutrition cases to come through her door. This month she is treating more than 40 pregnant women with severe malnutrition.

‘So in the coming months I expect I will have 43 underweight children,’ she said.

Fatima, her sister and their nine siblings were forced to flee their home with their father and now live under a tree

Fatima, her sister and their nine siblings were forced to flee their home with their father and now live under a tree

The family fled bombardment from the Saudi-led coalition, which intervened in Yemen in 2015, and have not been able to return home since

The family fled bombardment from the Saudi-led coalition, which intervened in Yemen in 2015, and have not been able to return home since

Heartbreaking: Fatima weighs about the same as a healthy toddler - 22lbs

Heartbreaking: Fatima weighs about the same as a healthy toddler – 22lbs

She said that since the end of 2018, 14 deaths from malnutrition had occurred at her clinic alone.

Fatima, her ten siblings and father were forced from their home near the border with Saudi Arabia and forced to live under a tree, her older sister, also called Fatima, told Reuters.

She said they were fleeing bombardment from the Saudi-led coalition, which intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after the Houthi-movement ousted it from power in the capital Sanaa in 2014.

‘We don’t have money to get food. All we have is what our neighbours and relatives give us,’ the sister said. Their father, in his 60s, is unemployed. ‘He sits under the tree and doesn’t move.’

‘If we stayed here and starved no one would know about us. We don’t have a future,’ she said.

After trying two other hospitals which could not help, a relative found the money to transport Qoba to the clinic in Houthi-controlled Aslam, one of Yemen’s poorest districts with high malnutrition levels.

A nurse measures the height of the malnourished 12-year-old at a clinic in Aslam of the northwestern province of Hajjah, Yemen

A nurse measures the height of the malnourished 12-year-old at a clinic in Aslam of the northwestern province of Hajjah, Yemen

Lying on green hospital sheets, Qoba’s skin is papery, her eyes huge and her skeletal frame encased in a loose orange dress. A health worker feeds her a pale mush from a bowl.

Aslami said the girl needed a month of treatment to build up her body and mind.

The United Nations is trying to implement a ceasefire and troop withdrawal from Yemen’s main port of Hodeidah, where most of Yemen’s imports come from.

But violence continues to displace people in other parts of the country, and cut access routes for food, fuel and aid.

There is food in Yemen, but severe inflation has eroded people’s ability to buy it, and the non-payment of government worker salaries has left many households without incomes.

‘It’s a disaster on the edge of famine … Yemeni society and families are exhausted,’ Aslami said. ‘The only solution is to stop the war.’