After 1,000 days of conflict, major humanitarian challenges threaten lives in Yemen

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.

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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.

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