A new United Nations report predicts that by the end of 2021, the death toll from the Yemen war will reach 377,000, including those killed by indirect and direct causes.
In a report released on Tuesday, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) estimated that 70% of the victims will be children under the age of five.
Studies have found that 60% of deaths are caused by indirect causes, such as hunger and preventable diseases, while the rest are caused by direct causes such as frontline combat and air strikes.
“As far as Yemen is concerned, we believe that the actual number of deaths due to conflict exceeds the number of deaths on the battlefield,” said Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme.
Yemen has been in conflict since 2014, when Houthi rebels occupied most of the northern part of the country, including the capital Sana’a, and the government fled. In March 2015, the League of Arab States led by Saudi Arabia intervened in the war with the purpose of restoring the government.
The conflict has been deadlocked for many years, and Yemen is on the verge of famine, killing tens of thousands of people. The situation in the country has been described by the United Nations as the worst humanitarian disaster in the world. At least 15.6 million people live in extreme poverty.
The report predicts that if the conflict continues, severe results will emerge in the near future.
According to the report, about 1.3 million people will die by 2030, 70% of which will be caused by indirect causes, such as loss of livelihoods, rising food prices, and deterioration of basic services such as health and education.
The report also found that by 2030, the number of undernourished people will surge to 9.2 million, and the number of people living in extreme poverty will reach 22 million, accounting for 65% of the total population.
If the war is over now
The report also predicts that if the conflict ends immediately, extreme poverty in Yemen may disappear within a generation.
The UNDP report uses statistical models to analyze future scenarios, saying that if peace is achieved in January 2022, Yemenis can eliminate extreme poverty by 2047.
Steiner said: “This study clearly describes what the future will look like in the context of lasting peace, including providing people with new and sustainable opportunities.”
If the conflict ends, the report estimates that economic growth will reach US$450 billion by 2050, and malnutrition (currently affecting 4.9 million people) will be reduced by half by 2025. Further projections indicate that concentrated efforts to empower Yemeni women and girls may lead to an increase in gross domestic product (GDP) by 30% by 2050 and a halving of maternal mortality by 2029.
However, UNDP pointed out that the war “continues to decline in a spiral”.
“The people of Yemen are eager to move towards a sustainable and inclusive development recovery,” said Khalida Bouzar, the head of the United Nations Development Programme’s Regional Bureau for Arab States. “UNDP stands ready to further strengthen its support for them during this journey, leaving no one behind in order to realize the full potential of Yemen and the region-once peace is guaranteed, peace can continue.”
The report emphasizes that the upward trend of development and well-being must not only be supported by peace efforts, but must also be supported by regional and international stakeholders to implement an inclusive and people-oriented overall restoration process that goes beyond infrastructure.
It is expected that investments focused on agriculture, women’s empowerment, capacity development, and effective and inclusive governance will have the highest development returns.