Yemen

Yemen Annual Report 2019: Responding to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis

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Message from the CEO

Five years since the conflict began in Yemen, its people remain gripped by one of the worst humanitarian crises in decades. Every day, almost 16 million people wake up hungry. Without food assistance this would jump to 20 million overnight.

Even basic supplies are so scarce or expensive that families can’t put food on the table and mothers are so malnourished they cannot breastfeed their babies. These children, so weakened by hunger, are perfect prey for diseases like cholera and diarrhea which drain them of the little strength they have left.

In Yemen today, thousands of children are hovering on the brink between life and death. By the time their families get them to one of the more than 50 emergency nutrition centres we run they’re too weak even to cry. No child should have to experience this and I’m haunted by the suffering I saw in their eyes during a visit to the country last year.

The medicines work well but as soon as the children go home, they fall victim to the cycle of starvation and disease again. When they inevitably return for treatment, they arrive that little bit weaker until for many, I fear, time runs out.

In 2019, our teams worked tirelessly to scale up support and I pledged that Islamic Relief will provide an additional USD 7 million worth of aid to Yemen. We also bolstered our partnership with the UN’s World Food Programme, and with their help we are now delivering assistance to more than 2.3 million people every month. This is up from around two million in 2018.

We have more than 3,000 staff and volunteers, supporting operations in over 70 per cent of the country - 19 out of Yemen’s 22 governorates - dedicated to delivering food, water and medicine.

We also invest in longer-term solutions and I visited a string of solar-powered wells that we run in the Hodeida governorate. There I saw how something so simple can transform thousands of lives. Women and children were no longer endangered by walking for hours every day in search of water in a conflict-zone.
With girls in particular freed from this daily burden,
I hope that they will soon be able to start going to school.

But despite the hard work, the cruel reality is that we simply cannot keep pace with the suffering. Three times in 2019 - in Hodeida province and Nihm district near the capital city - with the help of the UN, we got warring parties to agree to a temporary cessation of hostilities that allowed us to deliver aid to people on the brink of famine. Sadly, these successes are too few and far between, and our staff are constantly having to put themselves in harm’s way to save lives.
This is the year in which we lost our dear colleague,
Hamdi Abo Abdullah Al-ahmad who was killed by a stray bullet whilst out delivering desperately needed aid.

The international community has miserably failed the people of Yemen. History will not forget or forgive us: we have all the financial power, technology and other resources to bring this brutal conflict to an end, but we have not honoured basic standards of humanity and human dignity. Only a just and long-lasting solution to the crisis can bring about change and help to ensure that the people of Yemen finally see an end to their suffering.

Naser Haghamed CEO Islamic Relief Worldwide