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Yemen death toll to surpass 230,000 by end of 2019: UN report

More Yemenis die from side-effects of war than from fighting, study finds
About 131,000 Yemenis will have died from hunger, disease and lack of health clinics, UN report says (AFP)
By James Reinl in New York

By the end of 2019, fighting in Yemen will have claimed about 102,000 lives, according to new figures from the United Nations that indicate the war has killed far more people than previously reported.

A UN-commissioned report by University of Denver also revealed that more Yemenis were dying of hunger, disease and the lack of health clinics and other infrastructure than from fighting.

About 131,000 Yemenis will have died from these side effects of the conflict between the beginning in 2015 and the end of 2019, according to the 68-page study, called Assessing the Impact of War on Development in Yemen. 

The combined death toll from fighting and disease is 233,000, or 0.8 percent of Yemen's 30 million-strong population.

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Researchers also said that those five years of conflict will have cost Yemen’s economy $89bn.

"It's worse than people expected," Jonathan Moyer, an assistant professor and lead author on the report, told Middle East Eye.

"It's one of the highest-impact internal conflicts since the end of the Cold War. On par with Iraq, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo - conflicts with an impact on development that lasts for a generation."

According to Moyer, the vast majority of the victims of Yemen's conflict are children under five. The report says that one child dies from the war and its side effects every 11 minutes and 54 seconds.

"More can be done to stop this conflict and more should be done."

Moyer's team also projected forward, calculating Yemen's losses if the war were to drag on until 2030.

The report says that one child dies from the war and its side effects every 11 minutes and 54 seconds.

If fighting continues until then, the death toll would reach 1.8 million, the economy would have lost $657bn, 84 percent of Yemenis would be malnourished and 71 percent of them would live in extreme poverty, researchers said.

"The ongoing conflict in Yemen has already reversed human development by 21 years," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

"The study warns of exponentially growing impact of conflict on human development. It projects that if the war ends in 2022, development gains will have been set back by 26 years - that's almost a generation," said Dujarric.

Saudi Arabia leads a Western-backed military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore the government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, which was kicked out of power in the capital, Sanaa, by the Houthi rebels in 2014.

The warring parties struck a deal at UN-led talks in Stockholm in December for a ceasefire and troop pullout from the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, a lifeline for food, fuel, medicine and other aid to millions of Yemenis.

The truce has largely held but the redeployment of soldiers has stalled, with each side blaming the other for derailing the bargain, the first big breakthrough in peace efforts in more than four years aimed at a broader political resolution.

The conflict, which has pushed the poorest nation on the Arabian Peninsula to the brink of famine, is largely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis deny receiving support from Tehran.

"The scale of suffering borne by the children of Yemen is devastating," the report says.

"The international community must come together to ensure peaceful resolution to the conflict in Yemen and promote a path towards recovery."

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