First Person: ‘God save us from famine’

Asia El-Sayeed Ali at the WFP-supported nutrition clinic where she works in Aden, Yemen.
© WFP/Hebah Munassar
Asia El-Sayeed Ali at the WFP-supported nutrition clinic where she works in Aden, Yemen.
  • UN News

“At the beginning of the war, my children and I were forced to flee our home, and move in with relatives in another part of Aden. The conflict affected all of us: my community, my family, and me. It took many people I was close to. It took away our youth and made our children grow up too soon. 

I worked as a nurse from 2003 to 2011, and then I trained in nutrition, specialising in breastfeeding. Since then I have been able to return home to Al Tawahi, to work in the nutrition clinic, and for about eight years I have been working in the malnutrition unit.

Life is getting harder

Malnutrition in Yemen has increased dramatically since the beginning of the war. Food prices are increasing with each new day, diseases are everywhere, life is becoming harder every day.

In the current situation the cost of food is very high, and there are people who can’t buy cheese or eggs for their children, or can’t find anything to eat at all. 

Those of us who are lucky enough to have salaried work can’t cope with the situation: I can’t imagine what it’s like for those who don’t get a monthly pay cheque.

We pray to God to save us from famine. All those who face poverty and hunger are exhausted. When I see a child, who is suffering from malnutrition, I find them very weak, in the beginning. When a child has malnutrition, they become less active and lethargic, and they lag behind others in their education level. 

If you could see them, your heart would break. When I look at them, I imagine my son in this position. Imagine having a seven-month-old child weighing just three kilograms. When I try to weigh them, I find it difficult to carry them. I ask the mothers how they are managing, and they tell me that they rely on God. 

Health worker Asia El-Sayeed Ali measures a young child suffering from acute malnutrition.

Doing something good for humanity

When a mother brings in a child suffering from malnutrition, I provide nutrition treatment, and advise her to bring them back the following week. When she returns, and I see the child has gained weight, and is looking healthier with filled out cheeks, I feel relieved.

I love working in the clinic. My heart aches when I see children crying from pain or hunger, but I can make a positive difference, helping the mothers, and put a smile on the face of the children. 

On Tuesday, UN chief António Guterres called Ms. El-Sayeed Ali, in a bid to highlight the dire situation in Yemen with the looming famine and to call for increased international support especially with the lack of funding to humanitarian efforts in Yemen.

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