Saudi Arabia and Unicef extend vaccination programme for children in Yemen

The agreement aims to target 1.1 million children

A Yemeni boy looks for bullet casings, to sell as scrap metal, in a street in an old market on April 27, 2019, in Yemen's third city of Taiz after clashes between pro-government militias left two children dead.  / AFP / Ahmad AL-BASHA
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Saudi Arabia’s relief organisation and the United Nation’s children's agency have extended a vaccination initiative for Yemeni children for an additional six months.

More than 12 million children in Yemen are in need of aid, and 360,000 of those under the age of five are severely malnourished, according to Unicef.

Under the agreement between King Salman Relief Centre and Unicef,  1.14m children are expected to be vaccinated, the centre said on Twitter.

The deal was cosigned by KSRelief Assistant General Ahmed bin Ali Al Bayez and Unicef’s regional chief, Eltayeb Adam.

"The project will contribute to vaccinate children under the age of five and one, as well as training nearly 2,000 health practitioners, and 50 health supervisors," Mr Adam said. 
It aims to improving vaccination services at fixed and mobile health clinics around the country to prevent nine diseases.

The two humanitarian agencies will conduct 600 field visits as part of the agreement.

Four years of fighting between the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the internationally-recognised government of Abdrabu Mansur Hadi has left the already impoverished country facing a dire humanitarian situation.

Nearly half of Yemen’s health facilities are not functional due to staff shortages lack of supplies, inability to meet operational costs or limited access, Unicef said last month.

"Those health clinics that are running face severe shortages in medicine, [and] equipment, putting lives at risk," Unicef said.

This year, Unicef, appealed for $542 million (Dh1.99 billion) to continue responding to the massive needs of children in Yemen.

“The impact of the conflict in Yemen runs deep and has not spared a single child. Mind-boggling violence over the past four years, high levels of poverty; and decades of conflicts, neglect and deprivation are putting a heavy strain on Yemeni society, tearing apart its social fabric, fundamental for any society and especially for children,” Geert Cappelaere, Unicef’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said this year.

The UAE, which supports the Yemeni government, has pledged over $4bn in aid over the past three years.