Three years since the start of the brutal conflict in Yemen, Oxfam calls for an immediate ceasefire and a push towards lasting peace.
The relentless war has claimed thousands of lives and devastated the country. To date, nearly three million people – the equivalent of the entire population of Wales – have been forced to flee their homes due to bombing and fighting.
“Over the past three years families across Yemen have experienced suffering on a horrific scale,” said Kirsty Davies-Warner, Head of Oxfam Cymru. “Thousands and thousands are struggling to live in makeshift tents, without food, without water. Urgent steps must be taken to prevent even more harm and destruction.
“We urge the UK Government to pressure all parties to the conflict to agree a ceasefire and a political solution which will also allow Yemeni people access to the food, water and other basic services they need.
“The newly appointed United Nations special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, also offers a new opportunity to help put this country devastated by war on the path to peace. The people of Yemen need a chance to restore and heal their hearts and their homes.”
The escalating conflict sees the humanitarian situation deteriorating daily. Over four million people are malnourished, including nearly half a million children who are in a life-threatening condition. Over 14 million people are living without clean water and sanitation facilities. Over 20 million people – that’s 75 per cent of the population – need humanitarian aid.
Such large numbers sometimes lose all meaning, but the people and the stories behind those numbers bring the reality into sharp focus.
“I could not see anything because of the dust,” says Halima, 36, a mother of eight children, as she recalls the attack on their home. “All I remember is screaming the names of my children.”
Halima fled her home following intense fighting and airstrikes which killed her husband. With nowhere else to go, she fled to a camp in Amran, where she says her “suffering has doubled”.
“My children and I live on whatever food and medicine we get from people. Sometimes, I beg in markets or at people’s doors to ask for food. We only have one meal a day most of the time.”
Since the war started the cost of food has rocketed. Rice is up 131 per cent, beans 92 per cent, vegetable oil 86 per cent and flour for making bread up 54 per cent. Over the same period the number of people going hungry increased by 68 per cent to reach almost 18 million
Oxfam helped Halima with essential supplies such as wheat flour, rice, sugar, beans and vegetable oil. “Oxfam provided us with aid that came at the right time. It was our first time to receive food since we arrived at the camp, saving my life and the lives of my children.”
Halima’s story is one of thousands. Across Yemen families are struggling to live in temporary tents on spreads of sands. Everyday more and more families are effected by the blistering airstrikes. People – young and old – are forced to leave their homes without even their most treasured belongings, sometimes without their family.
Dr. Ali Saif, originally from Yemen, has lived in Cardiff for many years, but is still in touch with friends and family living in his home country.
“These innocent people, already living in one of the world’s poorest countries, are now living on the brink. I fear for my friends and family in Yemen. The fighting has resulted in many of the ports and harbours being destroyed. In a country where 90% of the food is imported, this is a catastrophe.
“I believe the UK, along with the international community, must apply pressure to end the senseless violence and to stop the wide-scale suffering. The people of Yemen deserve the same rights and security as we do here in Wales, and so we have a duty to our fellow human beings to call for a stop to the selling of weapons, and to influence a positive change in Yemen.”
In response to the Yemen crisis, Oxfam has reached more than 1.4 million people with water and sanitation services, cash assistance and food vouchers.