A young girl waits to fill her container with water at an Action Against Hunger water point. Photo: Florian Seriex, Action Against Hunger, Yemen.
Ongoing violence in Yemen has pushed the country into a devastating humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been killed and over three million have been forced to flee their homes. In this interview with France 24, Action Against Hunger Regional Operations Director for the Middle East Jon Cunliffe describes the situation on the ground and the heavy toll imposed by recent sanctions.
“The aid agencies combined – all of us are just a drop in the ocean of what is needed inside of Yemen,” he says. “The commercial sector must be allowed to reopen fully. Boats must be allowed to unload their products without being hampered – spending months waiting for permission to arrive in Yemen to unload food or petrol or other basic products. The entire aid community (…) cannot replace the commercial sector. This is a whole country that is starving.”
Despite difficult access for NGOs and a severe shortage of resources, Action Against Hunger continues to support vulnerable children and families in Yemen. We’re providing emergency health and nutrition support and cash transfers to help vulnerable families access essential food and medicine. We’re also supplying safe drinking water and promoting proper hygiene by rehabilitating water points and providing handwashing stations.
Our programs have taken on new urgency in the context of the COVID pandemic, which has escalated pressure on the health system. Our teams are travelling to communities, delivering door-to-door awareness raising campaigns and spreading the message about how to stay safe through the pandemic, using visual guides when necessary. Volunteers are visiting rural homes and meeting families using outside spaces to maintain social distancing measures. However, given the urgent humanitarian situation, COVID remains a “hidden problem,” according to Cunliffe. Famine conditions and deadly outbreaks of diarrheal disease like cholera have overshadowed this rising threat.
This year, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is only expected to worsen. As more infrastructure like hospitals and schools is destroyed and food insecurity increases, more resources will be needed to reach the children and families in urgent need of help. Please consider supporting Action Against Hunger’s efforts in Yemen with a donation.