The Seven-Year-Old Girl Who Woke The World Up To The Crisis In Yemen

WARNING: This story contains graphic images.

A seven-year-old girl tugs at her stick-like arms, her eyes distant. She is skin and bones.

Amal Hussain was found by The New York Times journalist Declan Walsh lying in a mobile hospital clinic in northern Yemen with her mother where she was being treated for acute malnutrition.

Her first name, Amal, is Arabic for "hope".

Many, too, hoped a brutally honest image of the young girl would divert attention back to a Saudi Arabian-led war that has been largely overlooked. Some readers offered money for her family; others wanted an update.

Just a week later, the publication reported Amal had died on October 26, about six kilometres away, in a "ragged refugee camp".

"My heart is broken," her mother Marian Ali told The Times.

"Amal was smiling. Now I'm worried for my other children."

Amal's story is the human cost of a controversial war between Houthi rebels, who control northern Yemen, and supporters of the country's government that has pushed its civilians into famine.

Three year after Saudi airstrikes forced her family to flee their home, she died from malnutrition.

Amal was one of a reported 1.8 million severely malnourished children in Yemen, though the United Nations has warned the number relying on emergency rations could soon rise to 14 million.

Yemeni boy Ghazi Ali bin Ali, 10, suffering from severe malnutrition lies on a bed at a hospital in Jabal Habashi on the outskirts of the city of Taiz. Image: Getty

UN human rights experts also believe their predicted number of civilians killed during the conflict since 2015 -- 16, 706 -- could be much higher, with the majority being the result of airstrikes.

Just three months ago, we were confronted with similar images, this time in the aftermath of an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition that hit a bus in Yemen. Fifty-one people were killed, 40 of them children.

READ MORE: How Many More Children Must Be Murdered Before The World Takes Action In Yemen? 

The war has received more attention in recent months with the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. After repeated calls from aid workers over the years, western powers are now being pushed to examine their role in supporting the Saudi military campaign.

In the US, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said recently the time has come to halt the conflict, with Mattis calling for a ceasefire in which the rebels would pull back from Yemen's border with Saudi Arabia to start negotiations within 30 days.

President Trump has been urged to suspend civilian nuclear energy talks with Saudi Arabia, in the wake of the Washington Post columnist's death that has sparked global outrage.