The conflict in Yemen has created the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Those are words we have heard over and over again. But what exactly do those words mean? In a camp for displaced persons, mothers struggle to provide their families with food. Often the daily meal is a single flat bread, shared between four people. On another day, perhaps the meal will only be boiled leaves. The fact that millions of Yemenis are displaced, that food is scarce, that children are close to famine, all this is a consequence of the war.
“We have no shelter, we have nothing” says Hamoud al-Muqadhi., who is himself displaced. “We don’t even have water. Our children are sick.”
“Thousands of families have no shelter,” adds Ali Saleh Thiyah. “They suffer from shortage of food, medicine and lack of healthcare in addition to lack of water. These people are eating leaves.“
In Yemen’s cities, the infrastructure which supports normal life has collapsed. Rubbish piles up in the streets, the water supply services are not functioning, the hospitals are not only short of vital life-saving medicines and equipment, they have suffered massive destruction. All this, too, is a direct consequence of war.
And all the while the conflict continues, driving more and more Yemenis from their homes, or sending them, injured, or with desperately malnourished children, to hospitals which struggle to help them.
“We receive 25 malnutrition cases per week,” says Dr Makiyah al-Aslami, who is director of Aslam Health Centre. The average is 60 cases per month. The capacity of this Health Centre is limited.”
“We call upon NGOs and charities to help us in Aslam district to help to respond to the needs of the growing figures of IDPs arriving and also the needs of the host community which is on the brink of famine. It’s not just Aslam district which is on the brink of famine, the entire country is.”
Yemen’s people are in agony not just because of the conflict, but because of how it is being conducted. Whatever quarrel states or armed groups may have, no child should die of hunger because of that quarrel, no hospital should be destroyed, no water supplies should be cut.
Yemen urgently needs a political solution, and peace. But before we talk about peace we must talk about war, and specifically how this war is being conducted.
Whilst the warring sides work on reaching a sustainable resolution, the Yemeni people cannot wait. Action must be taken now, and this is what we want to see:
· The parties must spare civilians
· The parties must spare civilian infrastructure like hospitals and schools
· The parties must keep the necessary distance from civilian infrastructure to avoid making these a military target
· The parties must allow civilians to flee areas of combat, and allow free movement of goods like food and medicine
· The parties must continue to facilitate humanitarian action inside the country
Life now in Yemen is death, destruction and hunger. The future should bring relief to the suffering. Meanwhile, an immediate change is urgent. We call on parties to respect the rules of war.
For further information please contact:
Mirella HODEIB, ICRC Sana'a, tel: +967 7391 64666, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara ALZAWQARI, ICRC Beirut, tel: +961 3138 353. email@example.com
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