NGOs working in Yemen welcome the recent announcement by the UN of a two-month truce across the country, as a chance to alleviate suffering and finally bring peace and security to the Yemeni people. Alongside the cessation of hostilities, the agreement makes provision for the reopening of Hodeida port to fuel ships and Sana’a airport for commercial flights.
“This is a very important development for millions of Yemenis whose country has been ravaged by war for over seven years,” said Erin Hutchinson, Yemen country director for the Norwegian Refugee Council. “We hope this truce will give a much-needed respite for civilians and lead to longer-term stability that would allow them to stand up on their feet again. We call on all parties to stick to their commitment and work for a resolution to this terrible conflict.”
A staggering 23.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance across Yemen. The conflict in Yemen has taken the lives of over 13,635 civilians since 2018. Fighting in January reached its deadliest, killing or injuring one civilian almost every hour. Seven years of ongoing violence has maimed and disabled children, forced more than 4 million people to flee their homes, destroyed critical infrastructure including medical facilities and water reservoirs, decimated the economy and pushed millions to the brink of famine. The announcement offers a moment of much-needed respite for people in Yemen who have suffered through seven years of brutal conflict. With the possibility to renew the truce after the two-month period, it also offers the opportunity to build a real and lasting peace.
For years, people in Yemen have been suffering the acute effects of an ongoing fuel crisis. Without a functioning electricity grid, diesel is the main source of power in the country for many vital services, including pumping water through city pipes and running ventilators in hospitals. Fuel is also what makes it possible to transport food and water to communities in acute need. We hope that the opening of Hodeida port will allow fuel ships and humanitarian aid to enter the country to alleviate the suffering of people in Yemen. We urge authorities across the country to ensure that critical services have access to the fuel they need so that Yemeni people can access life-saving medical care and other essential services.
Since the closure of Sana’a airport in August 2016, millions of Yemenis have become trapped in the conflict, unable to travel to see loved ones in other parts of the world, access urgent medical care not available inside Yemen, and pursue business and learning opportunities abroad. The entry of medicines, foods and fuels has become limited and therefore more costly than necessary. And the closure became a disincentive for international business with Yemen resulting in the loss of livelihoods. The opening of Sana’a airport will improve the freedom of movement of the Yemeni people, save thousands of lives and avert premature deaths, and bring down the cost of basic commodities. It can also serve to improve the chances of a long-term peace process for the people of Yemen.
After more than seven years of ongoing conflict, this truce offers people in Yemen a moment of hope, the chance for real peace and finally, after suffering through years of conflict, trauma and displacement, to allow them to take the first steps to rebuild and recover their lives. As the holy month of Ramadan, a time of peace and reflection begins in Yemen, we urge all parties to the conflict to take the opportunity of this truce to engage in constructive and good-faith dialogue as part of the UN-led peace process. We also urge the UN Special Envoy to ensure that women, youth and other civil society leaders have direct, equal, and meaningful roles within all tracks of the peace negotiations in order to build a sustainable and lasting peace.
Signed: Action contre la Faim, CARE International, Danish Refugee Council, Handicap International - Humanity & Inclusion, International Medical Corps, INTERSOS, Norwegian Refugee Council, NYC Medics, Oxfam, Save the Children, ZOA