Humanitarian crisis in Yemen deepening as world stands by

Immediate and lasting ceasefire, access to affected population urgently needed

Funding is needed to provide aid for tens of thousands of civilians

International aid agency Oxfam today warned that  the conflict-driven emergency in Yemen could soon ignite into a full-blown humanitarian crisis unless immediate action is taken to stop the fighting between government forces and Houthi rebels in the north of the country.

The agency calls on all parties to the conflict to implement an immediate and lasting  ceasefire to the fighting that started 11 August, and for the international community to intervene diplomatically to that end.  The agency has also appealed for the provision of safe passage to deliver humanitarian aid to an estimated 90,000 displaced civilians facing extreme insecurity in Sa’ada city, Sa’ada governorate as a whole and parts of Al Jawf governorate.

Another 60,000 displaced people living in camps and communities south of the frontlines have begun receiving life-saving assistance like food, water and shelter from aid agencies.  However the international community has thus far failed to provide the vital funding needed for the humanitarian response. To date, donations made towards a UN emergency appeal for US $23.7 million launched in early September have been minimal.

El Tayeb Musa, Oxfam Yemen Country Director, said:

“Aid agencies like Oxfam desperately need the support to help as many people as we can right now in areas that are accessible.  Perhaps even more desperately, it is critical that agencies  are able to safely reach civilians trapped behind the frontlines who we can only imagine must be in dire and urgent need of aid for survival.

“A sustainable ceasefire is priority number one, both to protect civilians from harm and to reach all of those in need – a majority of whom are women and children.  It has already been a month since the crisis began and that means it’s been a month too long for affected civilians who are caught in the crossfire.”

The Yemeni government has requested the support of humanitarian agencies and Oxfam has agreed to provide 20,000 litres of clean water per day, along with sanitation and hygiene services in a new internally displaced camp in Amran governorate, some 30 kilometres south of the frontline.  Oxfam is also in the process of providing sanitation and hygiene assistance to displaced families in Al-Mazrak internally displaced camp in Hajjah governorate with plans to assist a total of 15,000 people in the areas that are currently accessible to aid agencies.

An estimated 100,000 people have fled their homes and villages in the last month alone.  The remaining internally displaced people in Yemen fled their homes and villages in previous flare-ups in fighting between government and rebel forces over the course of the past five years.  In recent days, worrying signs of a dangerous escalation of this latest outbreak in fighting, have been multiplying.

Musa added: “Displaced people in camps that we are able to reach have told Oxfam that the entire population of their villages fled in the face of violent attacks and threats. At the same time we are deeply concerned about those we can’t reach. If the fighting intensifies or spreads, or even simply continues, we could be looking at another humanitarian catastrophe of terrifying proportions unfolding as the world watches from the sidelines.

“Now is the time for the international community to do all they can to pressure both sides to put an end to the conflict, allow aid agencies to reach those in need, and to prevent an even more tragic scenario from materializing.”

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