The last few months of 2018 we have seen the worst of the Yemen war. Death, famine and starvation is devastating the lives of families and their children. Fighting in many areas continues to result in the loss of lives and damage of infrastructure.
Last night there was fighting again, and I could hear bombing and heavy shelling in the direction of the port. The last few days have been quieter, but no one here really thinks that this will last. No one has faith in the peace process or believes that it will succeed. Islamic Relief has been using the lull to stockpile emergency supplies, mainly food rations, in the city.
We are hoping for the best – but know that we have to be prepared for the worst. If the fighting resumes and the city is cut off, it will be a living nightmare. I fear we will soon see an escalation and a further deterioration, which will be catastrophic.
People literally have nothing left. They have long ago sold jewellery and furniture. You walk into peoples’ homes now and their living rooms are empty. They will have just kept the very basics, mattresses, sheets and some clothes. Even the bed frames have been sold.
Middle class families who once had businesses, have become paupers and are now completely reliant on food aid. The other day we distributed 30,000 food packs containing enough food to feed 150,000 people for a month. But hundreds more people flocked to our offices begging for food, saying they had not received anything.
It was chaos. Everyone was pushing and from the corner of my eye I saw a disabled man that was carried in by two men who were propping him up as he was too weak to stand. I immediately rushed over to him to see what we could do to help, but the man was either too ill or simply too weak to even speak properly. It was not clear when he had last eaten or drunk something. We immediately found some supplies for him and his family but there are just far too many people in grave need like this and it is impossible to help everyone.
We are paying extra attention to those with disabilities. Our teams often go directly to their homes to make sure they get what they need or can make their way to a distribution but we cannot reach everyone. There are a lot of disabled people in Yemen – many have been injured, or have not been able to get the right medical care for injuries or diseases – so the needs are huge and people really struggle to travel to the distribution points.
Islamic Relief Yemen (IRY) is on the ground providing urgent food assistance for victims of the Yemen War. Through food assistance, we aim to save lives, prevent affected communities taking up detrimental coping mechanisms, and avert emergency rates of acute malnutrition. IRY also maintains water sanitation projects. Water sanitation is critical in the fight against cholera and other deadly diseases.