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Starving girl who became symbol of Yemen crisis dies

Amal Hussein, a 7-year-old Yemeni girl whose photograph in The New York Times became a symbol of the country...

Posted: Nov 3, 2018 3:38 PM
Updated: Nov 3, 2018 3:38 PM

Amal Hussein, a 7-year-old Yemeni girl whose photograph in The New York Times became a symbol of the country's long-running conflict, has died, Yemen's Houthi-held Health Ministry said.

The image by Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Tyler Hicks showed the emaciated girl lying on a bed October 18 at a mobile UNICEF clinic in Aslam, Yemen.

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The stark photograph of such a young child in pain -- Hussain was suffering from severe acute malnutrition -- was emblematic of the brutal civil war that has pushed millions to the brink of starvation.

Hussein's mother, Mariam Ali, said her heart was "broken," the Times reported Thursday.

"Amal was always smiling. Now I'm worried for my other children," she told the newspaper in a phone interview. She said Amal died October 26, according to the Times.

After Amal's image was published, amid the international furor over the brutal killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for a ceasefire "in the next 30 days."

The three-year conflict between the US-backed Saudi-led coalition and the Iranian-aligned Houthis has devastated Yemen and reportedly has killed at least 10,000 people.

UN experts from the World Food Programme say that the coalition's bombing of civilians are potential war crimes and that its partial blockade of the country has put 12 million men, women and children at risk of starvation in what could become the worst famine in 100 years.

In an interview Thursday with CNN, Martin Griffiths, the UN envoy to Yemen, acknowledged that Khashoggi's October 2 killing "catalyzed" calls for peace in Yemen.

He added that the most pressing factor justifying the US foreign policy move in Yemen was the threat of starvation.

"The threat of famine is a very real threat and risks doubling the numbers of people in Yemen who are at risk of dying of hunger or famine. That's the urgent factor here," he said.

Griffiths warned that the alternative to peace would be "devastating," leading to a rise in famine, terrorism and further regional instability and affecting trade routes used to access Europe.

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