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Yemen: The 10yo Boy Who Weighs Just 10kg in a Country on the Brink of Famine

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Sanya Burgess

Adam is 10 years old. He weighs just 10kg (22lbs) - a little heavier than a bowling ball.

He is too weak to get out of his hospital bed by himself in Yemen, where he lies crying and still.

Adam finds it difficult to breathe and his tiny chest heaves with the effort.

He is one of 400000 children who suffer from severe acute malnutrition in a country the UN says is on the brink of famine.

Now lying in hospital in Hodeida, he should at least be safe and able to focus on his recovery.

But as fighting in the Yemeni port city continues - with almost 100 airstrikes falling on it this weekend alone - the conflict moves closer and closer to Al Thawra hospital.

According to UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore, the fighting is now "dangerously close" and is "putting the lives of 59 children, including 25 in the intensive care unit, at imminent risk of death".

Heavy bombing and gunfire can be heard from Adam's hospital bed.

Juliette Touma, chief of communications for UNICEF's Middle East and North Africa region, travelled to Yemen between 29 October and 3 November.

She has spent 16 years working in the region, but said meeting Adam "will never leave me".

She told Sky News: "Adam who is 10 years old and who weighs 10kgs is someone that will never leave me.

"He lay there, crying in pain.

"Adam was not able to utter a word. All he did was to cry in pain without tears but making the sound of pain."

During her most recent trip, she was most struck by the extent children are suffering in the region.

Half of Yemeni children under the age of five are chronically malnourished. Some 30,000 Yemeni children die every year with malnutrition as one of the most important underlying causes.

Locals worry constantly about money and being unable to buy food, Ms. Touma said.

"Poverty is very visible, people are just exhausted," she said.

Civil servants, including doctors and teachers, have not been paid for more than two years and the devaluation of the currency means that despite food being on sale in markets most families cannot afford to buy it.

Adam, who also has a brain condition and shares his ward with other severely malnourished children, was unable to access health care until his family were able to save up to afford the transport to take him there.

She believes if it wasn't for the intervention of organizations like her own "the situation is likely to have been even worse, much worse".

She added: ""It is literally lifesaving for many, many children."

Fighting in the port city risks cutting off the vital line organizations like UNICEF use to get nutrition, medicine and vaccines to those living there.

"It's critical that the port continues to function," she said, adding: "It's a life-line for Yemen."

Ms. Touma said the only way to save the citizens of Yemen is for fighting to end.

She said UNICEF "welcomes the generosity from governments and individuals, including in the United Kingdom" and that it enables organizations like her own to deliver aid and training to the war-torn country.

"However, generosity alone is not enough and is a band aid," she explained.

"What is needed right now - today, not tomorrow - is for those fighting on the ground and those who have influence over them to reach an agreement to end the conflict in Yemen."

Saudi Arabia and allies have been waging a war on Yemen for more than three years.

The UK and US have been criticized for providing logistical and military support to the Saudi-led coalition…

Yemen has become the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22.2 million people in need of assistance.

Source: Sky News, Edited by website team

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