A new United Nations report predicts that the death toll from Yemen’s war by the end of 2021 will reach 377,000, including those killed as a result of indirect and direct causes.
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 would be due to indirect causes, such as hunger and preventable diseases, with the rest due to direct causes such as frontline fighting and airstrikes.
“In the case of Yemen, we believe that the number of people who actually died as a result of conflict exceeded the numbers who died in the battlefield,” said Achim Steiner, administrator of the UNDP.
Yemen has been embroiled in conflict since 2014, when the Houthi rebel movement seized much of the northern part of the country, including the capital, Sanaa, while 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 trapped for years, with Yemen on the brink of starvation, and tens of thousands of people dead. The situation in the country has been described by the UN as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. At least 15.6 million people live in extreme poverty.
The report predicts grim outcomes in the near future should the conflict continue.
It said about 1.3 million people would die by 2030, and that 70 percent of those deaths would be due to indirect causes such as loss of life, rising food prices and the deterioration of basic services such as health and education.
The report also found that the number of people experiencing malnutrition would rise 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 within a generation in Yemen if the conflict were to end immediately.
Using statistical modeling to analyze future scenarios, the UNDP report said if peace is achieved by January 2022, Yemenis can eradicate extreme poverty by 2047.
“The study provides a clear picture of what the future may hold with lasting peace, including new, sustainable opportunities for people,” Steiner said.
If the conflict ends, the report estimates economic growth of $ 450 billion by 2050, in addition to halving malnutrition – which currently affects 4.9 million people – by 2025. Further projections have shown that focused efforts to empower women and girls across Yemen could lead to a 30 percent boost to gross domestic product (GDP) by 2050, along with a halving of maternal mortality by 2029.
However, the UNDP noted that the war was “continuing in a downward spiral”.
“The people of Yemen are eager to move forward towards a recovery of sustainable and inclusive development,” said Khalida Bouzar, director of the UNDP regional bureau for Arab states. “UNDP is ready to further strengthen our support to them on this journey to leave no one behind, so that the potential of Yemen and the region can be fully realized – and so that once peace is secured, it can be sustained.”
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 to implement an inclusive and holistic people-centered recovery process that goes beyond infrastructure.
Investments focused on agriculture, women empowerment, capacity development and efficient and inclusive management have been projected to deliver the highest return on development.