Yemen war deaths will reach 377,000 by end of the year: UN

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A new UNDP report says that the death toll in Yemen’s war could reach 1.3 million by 2030.

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A new UN report estimates that Yemen’s war death toll will reach 377,000 by the end of 2021, including those killed by indirect and direct causes.

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In a report published on Tuesday, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) estimated that 70 percent of those killed would be children under the age of five.

It found that 60 percent of deaths may have been from indirect causes, such as hunger and preventable diseases, with the remainder being the result of direct causes, such as front-line combat and airstrikes.

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UNDP administrator Achim Steiner said: “In the case of Yemen, we believe that the actual death toll as a result of the conflict is greater than the death toll on the battlefield.”

UNDP report predicts that the number of people facing malnutrition will increase to 9.2 million by 2030 [File: Hani Mohammed/AP Photo]

Yemen has been mired in conflict since 2014, when the Houthi rebel movement occupied much of the northern part of the country, including the capital Sanaa, as the government fled. In March 2015, a coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia intervened in the war with the aim of restoring the government.

The conflict has been at a standstill for years, with Yemen reaching the brink of famine and killing thousands. The situation in the country has been described by the United Nations as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. At least 15.6 million people are living in extreme poverty.

The report forecast dire consequences in the near future, should the conflict escalate.

It says that by 2030, around 1.3 million people will die, and 70 percent of those deaths will result from indirect causes such as loss of livelihoods, rising food prices and deterioration of basic services such as health and education.

The report also found that by 2030, the number of people facing malnutrition will rise to 9.2 million and the number of people living in extreme poverty will reach 22 million, or 65 percent of the population.

In this August 2018 file photo, boys inspect graves prepared for victims of an airstrike in Saada province [File: Naif Rahma/Reuters]

Scenario if the war was over now

The report also estimated that extreme poverty in Yemen could disappear within a generation if the conflict is ended immediately.

Using statistical modeling to analyze future scenarios, the UNDP report states that if there is peace by January 2022, Yemen could eradicate extreme poverty by 2047.

“The study presents a clearer picture of what a future with lasting peace might look like, including new, sustainable opportunities for people,” Steiner said.

If the conflict ends, the report estimates economic growth of $450 billion by 2025, in addition to halving malnutrition – currently affecting 4.9 million people – by 2025. Further estimates showed that efforts focused on empowering women and girls in Yemen could increase by 30 percent. To boost gross domestic product (GDP) by 2050, halving maternal mortality rate by 2029.

However, the UNDP said the war was “moving downwards”.

“The people of Yemen are eager to move forward in the recovery of sustainable and inclusive development,” said Khaleda Boujar, director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States. “UNDP stands ready to further strengthen our support for them in this journey to leave no one behind, to fully realize the potential of Yemen and the region – and so that once peace is secured, it to be maintained.”

The report emphasizes that the upward trend for development and well-being should be supported not only by peace efforts, but also by regional and international stakeholders implementing an inclusive and holistic people-centred recovery process beyond the infrastructure.

Investments focused on agriculture, women empowerment, capacity development, and effective and inclusive governance were projected to have the highest return on growth.

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