Delivering water and good sanitation to war-torn Yemen

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This entry was posted by Caroline Berger on January 4th, 2010 at 10:03 am and is filed under General, Humanitarian, News Blog,

Oxfam's is responding to the crisis in northern Yemen. Caroline Berger relays a blog from Oxfam's Team Leader in Khaywan Camp, North Amran, Yemen.

The rocky and rutted road leading to the Khaywan camp is dotted with checkpoints run by various tribes. Each day my team embarks on a hazardous three-hour journey to provide humanitarian aid to the 1,100 internally displaced people desperately seeking refugee from the ongoing conflict.

The Khawyan camp lies on the edge of the conflict zone, deep in the tribal territory of Northern Amran. Behind the nearby mountain the war rages on. Against this perilous backdrop, people are slowly repairing their war-torn lives.

Inside the camp, Oxfam have been helping to improve health and sanitation facilities, including providing up to 40,000 litres of water per day across 12 locations. For pregnant Sabah Dhaifallah Hamis, this is a lifeline. Sabah tells us, "It's my 27th day in the camp without mattresses and covers in this cold area. We are grateful to Oxfam for their help in delivering water to the camp. I don't know how I'd take care of my three-year-old daughter without it."

Over the coming weeks, Oxfam is planning to build 45 latrines but right now there is no space to build these facilities. There is nowhere for children to play and the Kwayan camp continues to overflow with new arrivals.

One new arrival is Karamah Ali Ahmed Ismael. Karamah's smiling eyes and animated manner belies the path she has taken to reach the relative safety of the Khaywan camp. The devoted mother of four daughters and two boys, Karamah lost her father during the conflict and is struggling to take care of her children. Karamah is one of the women taking part in Oxfam's hygiene promotion training.

Yesterday we met one of the people receiving hygiene kits from Oxfam. Haytham Mohamed Yahya looks absently into the distance. He tells me that he lost his wife and nine children who were caught in the crossfire of the conflict. Sadly Haytham's tragic story is an all too familiar tale.

As dusk approaches, we are greeted by Nasir Abu A'ssa, resident of the Khaywan camp, who tells us, "When we see the Oxfam team we feel there is hope and that there is someone who is supporting us." Nasir's words are a reminder that life continues despite the countless individual tragedies. We hope our small contribution helps people to cope.