Yemen: After a year of war, the world must no longer ignore the human sufferingMore than 80 percent of the population of Yemen has been severely affected by the ongoing and brutal armed conflict that further escalated one year ago.
The time is now for world leaders to push for a permanent ceasefire and a sustainable, inclusive political solution in Yemen before one year turns into many more years of war resulting in further violence, displacement and loss of life, the Yemen INGO Forum, of which the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) is a member, says.
“The continued lack of a political resolution of the crisis is creating a bleak future for the millions of people in Yemen and we may end up with an entire generation finding themselves in a displacement context, either within the country or having to move to neighbouring countries in search of safety and livelihood. A political resolution to the conflict is urgently needed,” says Lisa Piper, DRC Country Director, Yemen.
“Five years ago, when the Syria war broke out, the world turned a blind eye. We cannot let the same inaction happen with Yemen. The needs are mounting and it’s time for the world to wake up to what is happening in Yemen and help bring an end to the humanitarian crisis that is rapidly unfolding in this country,” says Daw Mohammed, CARE Country Director in Yemen.
“In order to truly reduce the suffering of Yemenis, we need to see an end to the conflict. Without this, aid agencies won’t be able to reach populations in need and people won’t be able to move about freely and begin to rebuild their lives.”
Millions of people continue to face daily challenges to survive the fighting, while struggling to access enough food, safe drinking water, basic health care, and safe shelter. Yemen was already the poorest country in the Middle East and as the conflict persists, the needs will continue to increase, as will the loss of life. Yet despite the magnitude of the crisis, the response of the international community has to date been wholly inadequate in terms of funding the humanitarian response, securing access to populations in need and pushing for a political solution.
The image above shows the response in Yemen by the Danish Refugee Council in 2016.
Food insecurity is one of the major critical humanitarian issues in-country at present and is having an immediate and devastating impact on the Yemeni people. There are 14.4 million people in need of food assistance with 7.6 million who are severely food insecure, and while food insecurity increases, the nutritional situation is also directly affected.
“Ten governorates out of 21 in Yemen are in Emergency – Phase 4, one step before famine level, with for instance one child out of three suffering from the most severe form of undernutrition in the Hodeida governorate. The children we’re receiving for treatment arrive today in more severe condition and are older than before, which is a clear sign of severity,” explains Erin Hutchinson, ACF Country Director in Yemen.
Galeeb, a 30 year old Yemeni father of five who is currently living in an IDP camp in the Al-Hawban area of Taiz district, conveyed that "it's very hard to return home empty-handed when your family members have been waiting for you since early morning to get something to eat. I would prefer to die rather than seeing my kids starving." Oxfam Country Director Sajjad Mohammad Sajid notes that ‘‘livelihoods have been shattered throughout the country as a result of extensive damage to infrastructure, highly irregular and constrained imports, insecurity and widespread displacement. People need the chance to earn a living so that they can feed their families and return to a dignified life.’’
Continuous attacks by the warring parties on civilian infrastructure like schools and hospitals have resulted in over 3,000 civilian deaths. Intense fighting and denial of access by parties to the conflict have prevented aid agencies from providing assistance to some of the populations most in need. The economic situation is rapidly deteriorating, further exacerbating human suffering and preventing people from being able to cope with the shocks of war.
Edward Santiago, Save the Children’s Country Director in Yemen says, “Twelve months of conflict has devastated the lives of millions of children in Yemen and left them without access to food, clean water, healthcare or schools. The ongoing fighting and the obstruction of aid is putting many more children’s lives at risk, adding to an already unacceptable casualty list of over 2,000 children killed or wounded since the escalation in the conflict.”
The longer the world neglects to take serious action in Yemen, the worse the impact on civilians and the destabilization of Yemen over the long-term, as well as the stability of the region. If this conflict continues, the world will witness yet another human tragedy that will affect generations to come. The Yemen INGO Forum calls on the international community to increase pressure on all parties to the conflict in order to achieve a permanent ceasefire and a sustainable, inclusive political solution.
About the Yemen INGO Forum: Established in Sana’a in 2005, the Yemen INGO Forum has a membership of 40 international and regional NGOs active in the Republic of Yemen. The Aden INGO sub-Forum was established in June 2013 to facilitate coordination between INGOs, Yemeni civil society organizations and the government and ensure harmonized approaches to serve the people most in need more effectively and efficiently.