A man feeds children halas, a climbing vine of green leaves that locals have become increasingly reliant on in Aslam, Al-Hajjah, Yemen.
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In a remote pocket of northern Yemen, many families with starving children have nothing to eat but the leaves of a local vine, boiled into a sour, acidic green paste.At least 20 children are known to have died of starvation already this year, more than three years into the country's ruinous civil war, in the province that includes the district.Its population of 75,000 to 106,000 includes both local residents and accelerating numbers of displaced people who fled fighting elsewhere. In terms of hunger, Aslam isn't alone.Health officials say that other districts closer to war zones may not be getting food aid at all. But Aslam did see one of the province's highest jumps in the number of reported children suffering from severe acute malnutrition: From 384 cases being treated in January, an additional 1,319 more came in over the next six months, according to local health records. Before the war, the center would see one or two malnourished children a month.One humanitarian coordinator in Al-Hajjah said local Houthi authorities distribute aid unfairly.Food deliveries that do make it to Aslam come irregularly or are too small or are missing items, residents and aid workers said.People in Aslam have become increasingly reliant on leaves from the local vine, known in Yemeni Arabic as "halas" or in English as Arabian Wax Leaf.
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