A merciless war is raging in Yemen, where families were already struggling to survive after years of poverty and instability. Since the conflict escalated in March 2015, over two million people have fled their homes, placing even more stress on the communities where they seek safety, denying children food and healthcare, and putting kids at greater risk of abuse, trafficking and recruitment into armed groups.
Yemen’s children are at the heart of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Save the Children estimates that ten million children urgently need help. According to the organisation, one Yemeni child dies every ten minutes from preventable killers like diarrhoea, malnutrition and respiratory tract infection. Over two million children are malnourished—and the number is rising.
The IKEA Foundation has stepped forward to give a €2 million grant to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and €500,000 to Save the Children so they can continue saving lives and protecting children and families in Yemen. The Foundation hopes other funders will follow suit and ensure families get the help they need in these dire circumstances.
“All children have the right to a safe and healthy childhood,” says Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation. “That is why the IKEA Foundation is proud to support MSF and Save the Children’s work in Yemen, and it’s why we’re encouraging other funders to do the same. The international community has not done enough to prevent children and families in Yemen from suffering. If we don’t act now, the consequences are unthinkable.”
Providing lifesaving medical care
For nearly two years, civilians and hospitals have been indiscriminately attacked. Hundreds of health facilities have stopped functioning due to airstrikes and shelling, or lack of funding, supplies and staff.
MSF is working in two facilities—one just 20 km from the front line—in Ibb Governorate. In addition to treating trauma patients, the organisation’s medical professionals are also performing surgery, providing maternal and paediatric healthcare, and responding to outbreaks of disease. They treat anyone who needs their help without discrimination.
Before the conflict, Yemen already had one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the Middle East, with 385 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. War is putting the lives of pregnant women and babies at even greater risk, which is just one reason MSF’s work is so crucial.
With the IKEA Foundation’s funding, Save the Children will focus on the most vulnerable children in Sana’a and Amran Governates.
They will provide food baskets and help caregivers understand how best to nourish children under two. They will create mobile child-protection teams and help support children who have become separated from their families. They will also give psychosocial support to children and caregivers who have experienced violence.
Grant Pritchard, Save the Children’s Deputy Country Director in Yemen, said: “Bombs are landing on homes, they are landing on schools, and they are landing on hospitals, resulting in the displacement of nearly 1 million children and the needless loss of nearly 1,500 innocent children’s lives while thousands more have been maimed since the conflict escalated. We are grateful for the support from the IKEA Foundation, which will do much to improve the lives of thousands of hungry, malnourished and vulnerable children. And I hope that other donors will follow the IKEA Foundation’s example, given the catastrophic humanitarian crisis we are witnessing on the ground.”
Highlighting unseen and underreported emergencies
Around the world, MSF brings medical care to thousands of people suffering from emergencies that receive little or no public attention and are therefore very difficult to fund. When disasters strike, Save the Children’s relief workers help protect children from harm, sickness and hunger.
Thanks to special agreements with the IKEA Foundation, MSF can quickly access grants to help people survive unseen emergencies, and Save the Children can request grants for humanitarian disasters.
“The war in Yemen has created a countrywide humanitarian crisis,” says Bruno Jochum, General Director of MSF. “Yet, after almost two years of ongoing war, this emergency remains largely unseen. Through this grant, the IKEA Foundation is giving financial support for our emergency action on the ground and is contributing to help us highlight the plight of the Yemeni people. The IKEA Foundation’s support of our lifesaving medical action is a recognition that more needs to be done urgently.”