Yemen, a country located at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Africa, has become the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and is facing the world’s worst famine crisis, with 80 percent of Yemen’s population in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. Around 24 million people and around 12 million children are in dire need of some sort of humanitarian support. According to the UN, 14 million people in Yemen will face imminent famine if the war continues and support stops.
Five years of conflict, since March 2015, has forced millions to flee their homes, children into malnourishment and an entry for deadly viruses like COVID-19 and diseases like Cholera, which has infected 300,000 people in Yemen and is continuing to spread with 5,000 new cases a day.
As Yemen was already one of the poorest countries in the world, this heart-breaking war has pushed them into a catastrophe.
Yemen Water Crisis
Currently, 20 million people in Yemen lack access to clean water to drink and for sanitation and that is due to the normal means of storing and supplying water for the country, which has been destroyed, increasing the rate of buying any clean water. This has resulted in the people of Yemen to travel miles from their homes to collect any water they can find in buckets because if they decide to buy water from a local shop, it will cost them a third of their income and that may not be an option for many.
Water is essential for life to survive, as lack of water can result in severe illnesses and worse still, death. And because Yemen is already one of the most water-scarce countries in the world, the war has only resulted in further damage to the water systems throughout the country.
Amongst other things, the biggest hit was done to the sewage and water infrastructure, as the communities in Yemen, like all of us around the globe, rely on water for many of their days to day activities. The lack of fuel has also meant that nothing will be able to run the larger water tanks, meaning, Yemen is in need of water wells to continue to survive the drought.
Even in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, many homes are not connected to any type of water supply. If they are, the tanks are running dry. Sana’a could be the first city in the world to run out of water if this catastrophe continues, that is nearly 4 million lives that will be at risk of contracting deadly diseases. Even if they are curable, there is no way of them getting that cure due to the unforeseen circumstances occurring in hospitals across Yemen right now.
With that being said, children are also found on the streets of Yemen, dragging heavily loaded water tanks or carrying water bottles, walking for miles on end to try and find any clean water. When there is no clean water, families are forced to drink muddy, unsanitised water, which carries bacteria resulting in diseases like cholera, but little does the world know, that that is their only option and mean of staying hydrated.
The unstable and dangerous situations have affected everyone in Yemen, leading to millions of deaths. More than 85,000 deaths are children, which has been recorded in 2018, who died from malnourishment, thirst, and other things relating to the horrific battle and water crisis, including Cholera and COVID-19, so you can imagine the results in 2020/2021.
Cholera is a disease, which causes diarrhoea that can kill within hours if it was left untreated. This happens when food or water is contaminated with infectious bacteria and viruses. It can also be carried through infectious materials, such as sewage.
This is a very dangerous disease, but one which can also easily be avoided with clean water, and if contracted, it can be cured.
Yemen Food Crisis
The war in Yemen has impacted food security dramatically, creating an unstable living for millions of people in Yemen. This will lead to around 17 million people in Yemen who will require emergency food aid on a monthly basis, resulting in a food emergency crisis if they don’t receive the assistance that they need as soon as possible. That includes 2 million children who are at a big risk of dying from starvation.
In the absence of action to stabilise the situation in Yemen and help the population, the severity of acute food security will increase, including the risk of the world’s largest and worst famine, anyone has ever seen.
As food prices rise, amongst everything else in Yemen, the cost to support the people of Yemen increases too, making it even more difficult for charities and organisations to reach out to the people in Yemen and help them, as the country depends on imports to access food. This is why Saba Relief has a base in Yemen with a team who are on the grounds to implement whatever is necessary to help the population to survive.
According to the food security assessment released in December 2018, about 76 percent of the population, roughly twice the amount of the population of Sweden, advised that Yemen will be facing life-threatening shortages of food without the assistance provided by humanitarian communities, and we have witnessed this today in 2020.
This ongoing battle that is endured by the innocent in Yemen, has only resulted in more issues for the communities, from displacement to malnourishment, forcing the people to fight through the difficult times, yet the country is still facing the worst food security situation. Even employment has stopped, making basic and cheap food items unaffordable for many of the people in Yemen.
According to the OCHA Services (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), between April and August of 2020, agencies were forced to reduce food distributions to Yemen, affecting about 9 million people and further 1.35 million people will be affected from December 2020, unless funding is secured to help the innocent. There has also been a reduction in nutrition services in July 2020, which has affected more than 334,000 pregnant or breastfeeding women, and if not enough funding is received to provide nutrition, there could be a major effect on an additional 530,000 people who are children under the age of 2 from December 2020.
“A dangerous combination of conflict, economic hardship, food scarcity, and a crumbling health system has pushed millions of children in Yemen to the brink, and the COVID-19 crisis could make things worse,” as stated by UNICEF’s acting representative in Yemen, Sherin Varkey. She also continued to say that “more and more young children are at risk of becoming severely malnourished and requiring urgent treatment. Increased and sustained support is vital if we are able to save these children’s lives.”
This indicates that food assistance is extremely necessary to save lives and protect the livelihoods of populations facing high levels of acute food insecurity, which includes needy children, the elderly, and the displaced. And if we strengthen and monitor the early warning signs of food security in Yemen, there is a big chance that we could mitigate the negative impact of shocks and enable a rapid and coordinated response.
Yemen Health Crisis
Thousands of people in Yemen have died from diseases like Cholera and the current virus COVID-19, despite them being treatable illnesses. A staggering one million individuals were infected by the contagious Cholera disease, which has caused a rapid increase in the spread, and more than 2000 people, including healthcare workers, have been reported to have been infected with Coronavirus, and 446 deaths have occurred, which includes 97 healthcare workers. But this number is not completely accurate as thousands of people in Yemen are afraid to visit the hospital, so they stay at home and some even die with the symptoms and lack of treatment.
Supplies and medical care in Yemen are scarce, the same with access to clean water to drink and bathe in or for sanitation. This does not bode well for the ongoing healthcare crisis that is faced by the population of Yemen, amongst the other issues they are enduring daily. The conflict has destroyed any means of a healthcare system in Yemen, leaving millions without life-saving treatments, including those with terminal illnesses.
The collapse of the healthcare system in Yemen has had a huge impact on the contribution of creating what the UN has called “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world”, as two-thirds of the population depends on medical aid to survive the devastating conflict and the widespread of hunger and outbreak of cholera, diphtheria and as of 2020, the new deadly virus, COVID-19.
In the UK, we can wash our hands with clean water and soap and even use hand sanitisers on top, but what if we didn’t have clean water? Surely, the spread of the virus would have been much larger than it already is.
Therefore, without clean water or a proper healthcare system, this makes the people of Yemen very vulnerable to diseases that can easily be cured.
In addition to this, WHO (World Health Organization) has ended the Minimum Service Package (MSP) in 121 facilities in Yemen since September. This has resulted in 1 million people being deprived of essential and lifesaving health care services, including the 1.3 million people who were affected by this in April when WHO had to stop incentive payments to more than 1,800 medical staff members who were delivering MSP in 135 facilities. A total of 9 million people will also be affected if the necessary funding is provided by the end of 2020.
“Humanitarians are doing their part. We are on the ground every day, working in one of the toughest environments and under some of the most difficult conditions, delivering assistance to millions of Yemenis,” said Ms. Grande, who is the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen. “This is an operation with real impact. Humanitarians helped to roll-back famine two years ago and we’ve worked with authorities to stem the worst cholera outbreak in modern history. We can do more, and we want to do more—but we need the right conditions, and we need funding.”
In conclusion, Yemen is in dire need of your help. The proof is in the statistical facts, as well as the videos and photographs we come across on social media or the news on a daily basis.
Millions are desperate for our humanitarian assistance to survive, therefore Saba Relief are doing their best to create a structure to provide the people of Yemen with their rights to live.
Saba Relief has an office in Yemen, with a team working on the ground at all times to implement vital projects, like distributing aid, food packs, building water wells, and much more that you can find on www.sabarelief.org/what-we-do.