After 1,000 Days of Conflict, Major Humanitarian Challenges Threaten Lives in Yemen

Posted: 
12/22/17
Themes: 
Humanitarian Emergencies

Sana’a—The two-and-a-half-year-old conflict in Yemen has left a catastrophe. The crisis has continued to deteriorate following last month’s escalation of fighting in the north, as well as explosions in the south.

Essential services have collapsed and approximately 75 per cent of Yemenis need humanitarian assistance. A cholera outbreak has affected 21 of the 22 Governorates, while only 50 per cent of health facilities remain functioning in the country.

Famine has also increased the suffering of the war-torn country’s population with an estimated 7.3 million people, including 2.4 million children under five, in need of urgent life-saving food assistance.

IOM staff has been prevented from leaving their homes during this period, and their capacity to reach people in desperate need of humanitarian aid has been greatly affected. Access continues to be a major issue, as several main roads remain blocked. Fuel shortages have also limited the humanitarian community's ability to transport aid. 

“The world has almost never seen something as grave as the humanitarian crisis in Yemen,” said William Lacy Swing, UN Migration Agency Director General. “With such a complex situation in the country, reaching people in need – both Yemenis and migrants – is a priority for all IOM at all levels. Despite the deteriorated security situation and challenges on the ground, IOM is still operating across all the 22 Governorates of the country but if the situation continues to worsen I am not sure we will be able to protect the lives we are now for much longer,” said DG Swing.

Since the start of December, IOM has provided nearly 20,600 medical consultations to internally displaced peoples and other conflict-affected Yemenis via 22 mobile health teams and two permanent health facilities. These provide life-saving emergency healthcare. Some 3,231 people have received psychosocial support through IOM individual and group sessions. IOM’s mobile health teams also have been able to reach children and lactating women in the remote areas where services have been destroyed or absent.

As part of the humanitarian community’s cholera response, IOM treated 25,324 suspected cholera/acute watery diarrhoea cases so far in the last five months of this year. IOM supports 13 Diarrhoea Treatment Centers and 66 Oral Rehydration Points (ORPs) in seven Governorates: Taiz, Hajjah, Al Hudaydah, Shabwa, Abyan, Al Dhale’e and Ibb.

“The security situation is unstable, forcing us to change our implementation plans weekly,” said Said Mageed Alkaladi, IOM Senior Emergency Operations Assistant, a Yemeni humanitarian worker in the South. “We always search for new ways to reach people most in need with aid. A big part of this is speaking with the affected communities regularly to find the best way to implement and to meet their needs. We are part of these communities and we stand accountable to meet the needs in a timely manner despite all the challenges,” said Alkaladi.

Access to clean water and safe sanitation is closely linked to improving the dire health situation in Yemen. To complement its healthcare support, IOM is providing water chlorination, water trucking, solid waste management, distribution of cholera/hygiene kits and hygiene awareness sessions. Over the past few weeks, IOM has rehabilitated water sites, increasing access to safe drinking water for people in Lahj, Abyan and Shabwa Governorates.

Through its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), IOM monitors the needs of conflict-affected Yemenis. The data is used to tailor the humanitarian communities’ response to the crisis. One of the greatest needs found among those displaced in the country is shelter.

Over the past three weeks, IOM was able to distribute around shelter and relief kits, which include materials to build or reinforce shelters, ensuring that over 5,600 families in the northern Governorates of Taizz, Ibb, Hajja and Amran had a roof over their heads. This month, IOM has also helped 45 displaced families relocate from 11 schools and build safe shelters to live in, while then renovating the schools so that they are back in use by teachers and students.

Although Yemen is facing one of the gravest humanitarian crises in the world, around 80,000 migrants have entered the country from January to October this year. These migrants usually hope to transit through the Yemen to reach the countries beyond, but often find themselves trapped at the conflict’s front lines in a dire need of protection and lifesaving assistance.

Through its two Migrant Response Points in Aden and Al-Hudaydah, as well as its patrolling teams along the Yemeni coast, IOM is supporting stranded migrants by providing aid and humanitarian return assistance.

Over the past three weeks, more than 4,100 migrants received medical assistance through IOM health facilities, in addition to 1,100 migrants who received psychosocial support.
Last week, IOM, in coordination with UNHCR, helped 150 Somali refugees return home through the port of Aden. Tomorrow (23/12), IOM expects to help an additional 100 Ethiopian migrants leave Yemen’s conflict through the port of Houdaida.

For more information, please contact: Saba Malme, IOM Communication Focal Point in Yemen, Tel:  +967 73 736800329, Email: smalme@iom.int

  • Many of those living within the displacement camp in Lahij, Yemen have fled from nearby govenorates where the ongoing civil war has been spreading into their neighborhoods. File photo: Muse Mohammed / IOM 2017