Yemen needs both aid and peace to avert famine

More money is urgently needed to ease the humanitarian suffering in Yemen but aid alone is no substitute for reviving efforts to bring about peace, Oxfam said today as ministers will gather in Geneva tomorrow for a high level pledging event.

The United Nations hopes to raise US$2.1 billion to deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance to Yemen but the appeal – intended to provide vital help to 12 million people – is only 14 percent funded as of 18 April. According to the UN, Yemen has become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Nearly seven million people are facing starvation.

While aid is desperately needed to save lives now, many more people will die unless the de-facto blockade is lifted and major powers stop fuelling the conflict and instead put pressure on all sides to pursue peace. The two-year conflict has so far killed more than 7,800 people, forced over 3 million people from their homes and left 18.8 million people – 70 per cent of the population - in need of humanitarian assistance. Several countries, including the US, the UK, Spain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, and Italy, are attending the event while they continue to sell billions of dollars worth of weapons and military equipment to parties to the conflict. And Yemen's food crisis could become even more severe if the international community does not send a clear message that a possible attack against Al-Hudaydah, the entry point for an estimated 70 per cent of Yemen's food imports, would be totally unacceptable.

Sajjad Mohamed Sajid, Oxfam's Country Director in Yemen, said: "Many areas of Yemen are on the brink of famine, and the cause of such extreme starvation is political. That is a damning indictment of world leaders but also a real opportunity – they have the power to bring the suffering to an end.

“Donors need to put their hands in the pocket and fully fund the appeal to prevent people dying now. But while aid will provide welcome relief it will not heal the wounds of war that are the cause of Yemen’s misery. International backers need to stop fuelling the conflict, make it clear that famine is not an acceptable weapon of war and exert real pressure on both sides to restart peace talks.”

Yemen was experiencing a humanitarian crisis even before this latest escalation in the conflict two years ago, but successive appeals for Yemen have been repeatedly underfunded, respectively 58 percent and 62 percent in 2015 and 2016, equivalent to $1.9 billion over the past two years. On the other hand, over $10 billion worth of arms sales were made to warring parties since 2015, five times the amount of the Yemen 2017 UN appeal.

Oxfam is also calling on donors and international agencies to return to the country and to increase their efforts, to respond to this massive humanitarian crisis before it is too late.

Notes to editors

1. The number of people in need as a result of Yemen’s conflict continues to rise, but the international aid response has failed to keep up. For more information on which donor governments are pulling their weight, and which are not, download our Fair Share Analysis, "Yemen on the brink of famine"

2. Oxfam has reached more than a million people in eight governorates of Yemen with water and sanitation services, cash assistance, food vouchers and other essential aid since July 2015. Make a donation now to Oxfam's Yemen appeal

Contact information

Benjamin Wiacek | Yemen Media Lead | +216 53 547 791 (Tunis) | bwiacek@oxfam.org.uk 

For updates, please follow @Oxfam or @OxfamYemen.

The public can support Oxfam's humanitarian response in Yemen.