A picture and its story: Severe malnutrition in Yemen

October 25, 2016 3:06 PM EDT

A relative of Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, sits next to her as she lies on a bed at the al-Thawra hospital where she receives treatment for severe acute malnutrition in the Red Sea port city of Houdieda, Yemen October 24, 2016. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad


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By Abduljabbar Zeyad

HODAIDA, Yemen (Reuters) - The emaciated frame of 18-year-old Saida Ahmad Baghili lies on a hospital bed in the red sea port city of Hodaida, her suffering stark evidence of the malnutrition spread by Yemen's 19-month civil war.

Baghili arrived at the Al Thawra hospital on Saturday. She is bed-ridden and unable to eat, surviving on a diet of juice, milk and tea, medical staff and a relative said.

"The problem is malnutrition due to (her) financial situation and the current (war) situation at this time," Asma Al Bhaiji, a nurse at the hospital, told Reuters on Tuesday.

The 18-year-old is one of more than 14 million people, over half of Yemen’s population, who are short of food, with much of the country on the brink of famine, according to the United Nations.

Her picture is a reminder of the humanitarian crisis in the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country where at least 10,000 people have been killed in fighting between Saudi-led Arab coalition and the Iran-allied Houthi movement.

Baghili is from the small village of Shajn, about 100 km (60 miles) southwest of the city of Hodaida, and used to work with sheep before developing signs of malnutrition five years ago, according to her aunt, Saida Ali Baghili.

"She was fine. She was in good health. There was nothing wrong with her. And then she got sick," Ali Baghili told Reuters.

"She has been sick for five years. She can’t eat. She says her throat hurts."

After the war began, Baghili's condition deteriorated with her family lacking the money for treatment.

She lost more weight and in the last two months developed diarrhoea.

"Her father couldn’t (afford to) send her anywhere (for treatment) but some charitable people helped out,” Ali Baghili said, without elaborating who the donors were.

(Writing by Patrick Johnston in LONDON Editing by Alison Williams)



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