Yemen: What people need the most

2 August, 2017
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In a country that is witnessing one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises, it is hard to imagine what people need the most. Seven million people are on the brink of starvation, 2.3 million children under age 5 are malnourished, and two thirds of the population need humanitarian assistance and protection. Everything is needed and everything is urgent—shelter, food, water, health services, sanitation, safety. The stories of some of the 407 displaced families gathered in an improvised camp outside the city of Khamir illustrate how innocent civilians in Yemen are affected by a brutal conflict.

1. People want to live in dignity

Since the conflict escalated, more than 3 million people have fled their homes in search of safety and security. Two million people remain internally displaced across the country. Outside Khamir, some 407 families are gathered in an informal settlement. They came mostly from Sa’ada Governorate, where they had been displaced from different regions of Yemen before the current conflict. They fled Sa’ada after air strikes on their camp killed 14 people.

2. Access to clean water and proper sanitation services

Because the camp’s main water supply has been cut off, residents have to trek long distances to fetch water. More than 16 million people lack access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene services. This is a major concern, particularly as the country is grappling with the world’s worst cholera outbreak, which has affected more than 419,000 people and claimed 1,900 lives, as of 30 July.

3. Food is a daily struggle

Fifteen-year-old Ibtissam lives in a ragged tent with her family. They left Sa’ada seeking safety. Every morning, Ibtissam checks on her siblings before going to buy them some bread. "I often stay with no food; what matters the most is that my siblings are eating," she said.

In Yemen, 7 million people are on the cusp of famine, including 500,000 severely malnourished children.
 

4. Shelter

Ayoub Ali is 25 years old and has four children with his wife, Juma'a. Lacking proper shelter, families are vulnerable to weather conditions and hygiene is deteriorating. Nationwide, 4.5 million people need emergency shelter or essential household items. These people include IDPs, host communities and initial returnees who are forced to live in crowded, unsanitary and unsafe shelters to escape a brutal conflict.

5. Health

Yemen’s institutional capacity to respond to the population’s basic needs has crumbled. As a result, people are dying of treatable ailments because even the most basic medical services are no longer available. Children and pregnant and lactating women are the most vulnerable. With more than 2 million children severely malnourished, including half a million children under age 5, the future of an entire generation is compromised. Shockingly, one child dies every 10 minutes from preventable diseases in Yemen, and more than 10 million urgently need help.

6. Women and girls are increasingly exposed to gender-based violence

Gender-based violence is notoriously underreported, but the number of reported cases is steadily increasing, says UNFPA. Jehan, aged 17, fled to the camp from her hometown of Marib in 2015. She lost the sight in her right eye after her husband beat and abused her and then left her to fend for herself. She returned to her family, to a dilapidated shelter.

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