As war-torn families struggle to survive, millions of Yemenis are on the brink of famine and it is often their children whose physical vulnerabilities make them the largest target of malnutrition and emaciation. Parents are torn between the decision of paying for medical treatment for one child or paying for food to save their remaining family. In the end, the need for food wins.
According to the U.N. Children’s Fund, an estimated 370,000 Yemeni children are inching closer to death and 2 million are in desperate need of aid. “This is an entire generation that’s at risk here,” director for the aid agency Action Against Hunger of Yemen said. Unreported mass graves of children lie in innumerable villages, yet there is no sense of urgency from international donors. Yemen remains in the shadow of Syria, Iraq and other catastrophes.
Horrific images of fragile bodies staring blankly into the camera’s lens and the maddening cries of tormented parents once moved us all to tears, but now it seems that we all have grown accustomed to the tragedy that is Yemen. Concern for Yemen’s famine has dried out over the years and will only return when news is bold enough to make headlines. We will mourn one day and then forget the next.
How long will it take for us to break free from this cycle? How many more wretched deaths must we see until our hardened hearts are finally shaken up? 10,000? 100,000? 1,000,000? Completely deprived of food and medication, the children of Yemen are crying for our help. As graves are being increasingly piled with bodies of children, it is no doubt that they have seen more deaths than life.
So what’s our excuse? What is keeping us away from seizing this opportunity to help others? Understandably, some of us cannot physically or financially offer assistance. But there is something we all have that can aid this famine: our influence. We have all been granted a varied amount of power in our speech, our persuasion and our influence.
Now is the time to use these abilities on those who have the power to save Yemen. Whether it is convincing the wealthiest of leaders or simply raising awareness within our own families, our influence can be the guiding light for others who have the right tools. Our actions are writing history right now, therefore even if it’s the slightest bit, change for these Yemeni children lies in our hands.