A 5-day humanitarian pause in fighting ended on Sunday night (May 17) leaving millions still in need in Yemen. The pause was marred by violence and was insufficient to provide for the needs of the vulnerable.
Limitations on the ground, including lack of fuel and security issues, restrained the movement of organizations and prevented access to some of the most-affected communities in Yemen, including in Aden and Lahj. Fuel, food, water and medical supplies remain in short supply, leaving millions at risk.
Despite diplomatic efforts to extend the pause, large scale violence has resumed in Yemen, including airstrikes in Aden and ground fighting countrywide.
International Medical Corps staff worked around the clock during the pause and did a remarkable job under the circumstances, managing to bring in significant quantities of nutrition commodities for small children, distribute primary care medicines to 39 health facilities and preposition 2,500 hygiene kits for use by those internally displaced.
Despite the best efforts to bring some relief to the people of Yemen, overall needs remain massive and far beyond the capacity of the entire humanitarian aid community.
Despite current conditions, International Medical Corps continues its critical work, distributing water, non-food items and surgical kits in key areas in Sana’a and Taiz and operating mobile medical units in Aden and Lahj. Once we are able to get additional staff and supplies into hard-hit areas, we are prepared to provide a comprehensive emergency response—including providing trauma and emergency health care, vital medical supplies, and training for local first responders, who will help the people of Yemen now and long into the future.
International Medical Corps teams in Yemen will likely run out of fuel in the next 2-3 weeks in additional affected areas and will be unable to provide further humanitarian support to vulnerable populations and healthcare facilities.
Our resupplies during the humanitarian pause included nutrition commodities that will benefit more than 20,000 children, primary care medicines that will help more than 20,000 beneficiaries and 2500 hygiene kits for internally displaced persons in Sana’a.
We view the pause as an important step towards the larger goal of ending the embargo on the country and reversing the downward spiral of humanitarian conditions in the country that we’ve been witnessing and experiencing over the past month. Even before the latest escalation of the conflict, 14.7 million – over half Yemen’s population– needed humanitarian assistance to meet their most basic daily needs, and now these vulnerable populations are at grave risk.
In April a coalition airstrike injured six International Medical Corps staff and damaged a warehouse in Sana’a. On May 6th, a member of our Aden-based staff, her husband and small child were fired on as they were forced to flee their neighborhood and seek shelter elsewhere in the city.
We remain extremely concerned for all of our staff in Yemen, and we welcome any initiative that will reduce the violence.
Initial WFP estimates project that 12 million people are now food insecure in Yemen – a 13 percent increase over end-year 2014 estimates. (OCHA Sit Rep 3)
Between March 19 and May 16, UN OCHA reported the number killed in the latest outbreak of violence at nearly 1,820 with 5,330 injured. The actual number of war-related deaths and injuries is believed to be far higher. An additional 545,719 people have been displaced between 26 March and 7 May.
Food insecurity is rapidly increasing. The World Food Program announced April 30 that food distributions for conflict-affected communities were stopped after the organization ran out of fuel in the western Hudayda Governorate. The organization’s other pre-positioned supplies are dangerously close to running out, too.
The current fuel crisis in Yemen continues to be exacerbated with prices having increased over twentyfold in some areas, when available. Fuel shortages are becoming a key determinant to posing a high operational risk for humanitarian activities and limiting distribution of critically needed medical and other health care supplies. In Aden, a hospital adjacent to the port remains well-stocked with medical supplies placed their prior to the blockade, while a second hospital 35 miles away has virtually nothing because there is no longer fuel to transport it there.
International Medical Corps has been operational in Yemen since 2012, with three offices around the country and more than 175 local staff.
Today our humanitarian programs include rapid emergency response, health systems strengthening and service provision, maternal and child health, protection, community development and water, sanitation and hygiene.
A wide network of long-standing relationships with local partners and government ministries is a key feature of International Medical Corps’ strong work in the region and has contributed to our role responding to humanitarian needs in Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Libya, Turkey and Yemen.
Nutrition International Medical Corps, supported by the European Commission, is taking action to reduce the levels of acute malnutrition in children under five and pregnant and lactating women. Our approach is rooted in local communities by improving the availability of nutrition services at health centres where pregnant women and new mothers already spend time. We also encourage proper hygiene practices and support households to increase their income, which in turn allows families to buy more nutritious food.
With the support of Europeaid we are strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Public Health and Population to plan, implement and monitor micronutrient projects. These have a great impact on the nutrition levels of hundreds of thousands of children across the country.
Vaccinations International Medical Corps is also working to address the measles epidemic which has spread at the beginning of summer 2014. More than 24,000 children under five from Sana’a and the surrounding rural areas have been vaccinated against the disease and more than 15,000 have also been provided with food supplementation. The measles campaign was funded by the START Fund.