The death toll from Saudi-led aggression on Yemen will reach 377,000 by the end of 2021, including those killed as a result of indirect and direct causes, a new United Nations report has projected on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia, backed by the US and regional allies, launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the Hadi government back to power and crushing popular Ansarullah. The war has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead, and displaced millions more. It has also destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases.
In a report, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) estimated that 70 percent of those killed would be children under the age of five, Al Jazeera reported.
It found that 60 percent of deaths would have been the result of indirect causes, such as hunger and preventable diseases, with the remainder a result of direct causes like front-line combat and air raids.
“In the case of Yemen, we believe that the number of people who have actually died as a consequence on conflict exceeds the numbers who died in battlefield,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said.
The situation in the country has been described by the UN as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. At least 15.6 million people are living in extreme poverty.
The report projected grim outcomes in the near future should the conflict drag on.
It said some 1.3 million people would die by 2030, and that 70 percent of those deaths would be the result of indirect causes such as loss of livelihoods, rising food prices, and the deterioration of basic services such as health and education.
The report also found that the number of those experiencing malnutrition would surge to 9.2 million by 2030, and the number of people living in extreme poverty would reach 22 million, or 65 percent of the population.
Scenarios if war were to end now
The report also projected that extreme poverty could disappear in Yemen within a generation if the conflict were to end immediately.
Using statistical modelling to analyse future scenarios, the UNDP report said if peace were reached by January 2022, Yemenis could eradicate extreme poverty by 2047.
“The study presents a clear picture of what the future could look like with a lasting peace including new, sustainable opportunities for people,” said Steiner.
If the conflict ends, the report estimated economic growth of $450bn by 2050, in addition to halving malnutrition – currently affecting 4.9 million people – by 2025. Further projections showed that focused efforts on empowering women and girls across Yemen could lead to a 30 percent boost of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2050, coupled with a halving of maternal mortality by 2029.
However, the UNDP noted that the war “continues to propel in a downward spiral”.
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