This week, Oxfam has come together with 13 other agencies to launch the Disasters Emergency Committee Yemen Crisis Appeal. We did so because of the appalling scale of the humanitarian crisis and the fact that people are starving and need help now.
The 20 month long war – waged between a Saudi-led coalition of Gulf countries and the Government of Yemen against the Houthis – has killed and injured over 11,000 civilians and forced more than 3 million people to flee their homes. Right now, more than 7 million people in Yemen do not know where their next meal will come from and across Yemen children are dying from malnutrition.
We are therefore hugely grateful to people across Scotland and the rest of the UK for supporting the Yemen Crisis Appeal and we hope this will continue in the coming days.
In Scotland, the DEC Appeal has long attracted very welcome cross-party political support. Yesterday the leaders of the five parties represented at the Scottish Parliament, alongside the Presiding Officer, again put their political differences aside to promote the Yemen Crisis Appeal. We are very grateful for their support and for the £250,000 donated by the Scottish Government.
We are aware that this display of cross-party unity has attracted some online criticism amid concerns around the sale of arms by the UK Government to Saudi Arabia. As part of this, some have asked for clarity around Oxfam’s position.
Since the start of the war, Oxfam GB has worked with national Yemeni organisations and local water supply companies to reach 913,000 people. This includes providing safe water through trucking to 435,500 people. We have also distributed cash or vouchers to over 125,000 people in Hodeidah, Hajjah and Taiz to allow them to buy food or meet their other urgent needs. In addition, we have provided latrines for 200,000 people, including families forced from their homes.
Alongside this vital emergency response, Oxfam has repeatedly called for international action to ensure there is peace in Yemen and for steps to ensure more help can reach those who need it.
Oxfam has also explicitly, and repeatedly, called on the UK Government to halt arms sales and military support to Saudi Arabia and instead urged it do more to help put Yemen on the road to peace.
We are currently calling on the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to stop British bombs from fuelling the conflict in Yemen, and we would strongly urge supporters in Scotland to join the more than 30,000 people across the UK who have so far supported this campaign.
Along with the UN and Parliamentarians across all the parties, we have also called for an independent international inquiry to examine alleged breaches of the rules of war.
While Oxfam will of course continue to campaign for peace, we cannot ignore the urgent humanitarian need in Yemen right now and the DEC Appeal is critical to raising the money we need to fund our response. We very much hope that people across Scotland will continue to support the Appeal.