SANAA, March 9 (Saba) -Four years of “mind-boggling violence” in Yemen “has not spared a single Yemeni citizen.
In Yemen today, the Yemenis continue to live in 31 active conflict zones including Hudaydah, Taiz, Hajjah and Saa'da – in areas witnessing heavy, war-related violence.
Owing to the war which is being played out on Yemeni soil, civilian institutions and ports are being intentionally bombed by Saudi air forces, the bombing of sites such as ports halts the distribution of staple food products which is crucial as ca. 50% of Yemen’s food has to be imported due to its geographical composition which is roughly 90% desert, arid or semi-arid terrain.
An important blow to the provision of humanitarian aid in Yemen was the strategic bombing of Sanaa Airport in the Yemeni capital in November of 2017 which severely limited the amount of medical aid coming through to the country, this was a particularly malicious blow seeing as flights were already limited to UN aid flights by the Saudis in August 2016. Owing to these planned attacks many are left in urgent need of aid, left without a home, malnourished or dangerously ill.
The damaged water infrastructure in Yemen coupled with the water scarcity in the country, sky-high water prices and the urgent need of sanitation assistance in many permanent and temporary homes laid a very favorable environment for cholera to thrive and ravage the nation’s citizens.
The internal displacement of people is yet another main shaper of why the situation in Yemen can be deemed a humanitarian crisis. With 2,014,026 people displaced as of March 2018, shelter is in urgent demand as a direct result of the destruction of civilian homes in the recently intensified fighting.
War-torn regions are frequently home to outbreaks of diseases as a result of the reduced level of attention paid towards personal health in the light of personal safety. Additionally, periods of war are associated with lower calorie intake and in turn, malnutrition.
The impact of the conflict in Yemen runs deep and has not spared a single child, “Mind-boggling violence over the past four years, high levels of poverty, and decades of conflicts, neglect and deprivation, are putting a heavy strain on Yemeni society, tearing apart its social fabric – fundamental for any society and especially for children”.
“in Yemen, children can no longer safely do the things that all children love to do, like go to school or spend time with their friends outside. The war can reach them wherever they are, even in their own homes.”
Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said that the generosity and aid will not, on their own, bring an end to children’s suffering in Yemen, and called on warring parties to “put an end to violence in hotspots and across all of Yemen, protect civilians, keep children out of harm’s way and allow humanitarian deliveries to children and their families wherever they are in the country.”
Out of the 17.8 million people in Yemen requiring emergency food assistance, 8 million are severely food insecure and so rely solely on external assistance as a result of lack of financial funds or inability to access food. Out of all these malnourished people, the scarcity of food supply has affected nursing and pregnant women, and children most seriously.
For hundreds of thousands of young children spread across Yemen malnutrition is not a temporary state of things – the extreme lack of food children under the age of five meet has lasting effects on their lives.
This war that Yemeni children have had to face will not only scar them psychologically for the majority of their lives but the damage to cognitive development caused will most likely induce learning difficulties and will thus put them at a disadvantage in the workplace in the future trapping them and their family in a cycle of poverty.
The supply of food relief is increasingly difficult as more and more locations of food delivery are being targeted by air raids and in the cases when food does reach Yemen, it is either scarce and does not meet demand or it is left to rot in warehouses as there is no transport available to distribute it.
Aid organizations cannot solve the issue of malnourishment in Yemen completely as practically the entire country is in need of food aid, people get turned away from receiving any food from organizations, such as the WFP, on a frequent basis. Even if there were no financial limitations going towards solving the near-famine in Yemen.
The medical aid provided by the Ministry of Public Health and Population has become increasingly insufficient for the Yemenis people as the demand for care provoked by wounds inflicted by the war, malnutrition or disease is not met by a sufficient amount of staff and hospital facilities.
However, even these functioning facilities are at risk as they have been targeted by airstrikes in the past, such as the hospital in Abs, which has led to fewer than half of the healthcare facilities operating after two years of war. As a result, 15 million lack access to basic health care facilities which could’ve aided in the distribution of diphtheria vaccines, preventing the current outbreak in Yemen.
This lack of access is often brought on by the vast swathes of road that many have to overcome in order to get to a hospital, as the currently functioning medical care institutions are often located in the larger cities, such as Taiz or Sana’a.
All in all, as with the food relief, the answer to these issues is the same – the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen needs to loosen restrictions on imported materials into Yemen in order for hospitals to be equipped and medical aid to be available.
As we go on, one of the largest humanitarian crises of our time continues to roll on, thousands of children and adults alike have faced death either through malnutrition, military action or epidemics. That was a brief overview of the humanitarian situation in Yemen, the fighting going on in Yemen .
In conclusion, the issues underlined throughout the articles ultimately have one solution – end the war and restore peace and trade in the country in order to help affected Yemenis, who are without a doubt the majority of the population of Yemen.
Written by Mona Zaid