Islamic Relief launches R180 million Yemen appeal in the face of ‘almost overwhelming’ suffering
After a recent intensification of the conflict, 560 people have been killed, almost 2,000 injured and more than 100,000 have been displaced.
“In the next couple of days fuel is set to run out, which will mean that people won’t be able to access food and water in the worst-affected areas, and thousands of injured people are in dire need of medical equipment and treatment,” says Mohamed Salah Eldin, Country Director for Islamic Relief in Yemen. “We urgently need to act before we have an acute humanitarian disaster on our hands. When the air strikes began two weeks ago they always took place at night. Now they are happening at all times of the day. And people are too scared to leave their homes.”
Islamic Relief’s appeal aims to reach 700,000 people affected by the conflict in the northern and southern governorates with food rations, water and sanitation, and medical supplies. The main public hospital in Sana’a and other public hospitals are overwhelmed with the number of casualties. Islamic Relief will be providing IV fluids, trauma kits and essential drugs to 30 hospitals, targeting 15,000 patients.
Islamic Relief food distributions started on April 9 in Sana’a and will continue in Haradh, Amran, Taiz Sa’da (northern governorates) and Aden, Lahj, Abyan and Albayida (southern governorates), reaching a total of 30,000 families. Families will receive a package, including flour, rice, sugar, beans, pasta, milk powder and cooking oil, which normally last between two weeks and a month. Water supplies have been badly affected in many areas, so Islamic Relief will be providing water and rehabilitating wells, benefiting approximately 10,000 households.
Islamic Relief has been working in Yemen since 2004 but was recently forced to close its office in Aden because of the current violence. Expatriate staff have been evacuated but continue to work remotely from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan. Yemeni staff remain in Yemen, however, and are continuing to run our offices in Sa’dah, Hajja, Amran, Sana’a, Ma’rib and Al Hudayda .
An Islamic Relief staff member based in Sana’a says this is the worst situation he has ever experienced in Yemen. “Even before the recent violence, Yemen was in crisis, but this has now moved to another level. People are living in fear of their lives and with no electricity, very little fuel and food prices escalating. They are really struggling to get by. The level of suffering is almost overwhelming.”
Although Islamic Relief has been forced to suspend its activities in Aden, it hopes to resume as soon as possible – security permitting – and has its emergency team and volunteers on standby. “There is a massive need for medical supplies and clean water in Aden,” explains Mohamed Salah Eldin. “Our contacts on the ground are telling us there are huge queues of people everywhere desperate for water.”
Islamic Relief is also planning to reach a camp for internally displaced people that was hit by air strikes in Hajja in the west of the country this week. “In one of the camps there is no food and water at all and very little shelter. We need to reach the people there as soon as possible,” says Mohamed Salah Eldin. “There are major challenges to the aid effort, but as soon as it is safe, we will move into the worst affected areas. In the first phase of the programme, we will provide emergency aid with medical supplies, food and water and then we’ll move into a more long-term recovery response. The huge numbers of displaced people mean that this crisis will only get worse. And we have to be in it for the long haul.”
Islamic Relief began working in Yemen in 2004, focusing on water, health, malnutrition and supporting orphans. To date, Islamic Relief has supported 1.2 million beneficiaries and this is expected to rise in 2015-17.
Even before the recent violence, an estimated 15.9 million people – or 61 per cent of the population – were in need of humanitarian assistance. An estimated 13.4 million people lack access to safe drinking water, 12 million have no proper sanitation facilities and 8.4 million people lack access to basic health care. Over half of the population lives below the poverty line; on less than R30 per day.
NOTE TO EDITORS
- Islamic Relief is an international aid and development agency and the world’s largest independent Muslim charity. It works to alleviate poverty and suffering in over 30 countries, mainly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. As well as responding to disasters and emergencies, Islamic Relief promotes sustainable economic and social development by working with local communities – regardless of race, religion or gender.