Fighting in Yemen is continuing despite Saudi Arabia’s recent announcement of an end to military operations, a group of leading aid agencies has warned. The ongoing conflict is preventing humanitarian organisations from delivering life-saving assistance, the agencies say.
While welcoming the announcement by Saudi Arabia of an end to ‘Operation Decisive Storm’ the INGO Forum Steering Committee in Yemen, representing 47 major aid agencies, is calling for all parties to the conflict to end the violence and seek a negotiated peace.
International humanitarian organisations working in Yemen welcome the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s recent announcement which brought Operation Decisive Storm to an end. However, we remain concerned about the ongoing effects of the continued fighting and we urgently call on all parties to the conflict to end the violence and seek a negotiated peace. All efforts must be taken to ensure that civilians and civilian infrastructure are protected and spared from the ongoing violence. We reassert that international humanitarian and human rights laws must be upheld by all parties at all times.
We call for the international community to support a coordinated and impartial response that addresses both short and long-term civilian needs across the country. In many conflicts, weapons do not cause the greatest casualties and suffering, most often the secondary impacts of war are the most devastating for civilians. Disease, hunger, the destruction of infrastructure and property are the most devastating for innocent civilians. As a country already experiencing food insecurity among 12 million people, and maternal-child health risks, it is all the more crucial the humanitarian response take into account the challenges civilians face now, as well as those we know they will face in the future.
We call for increased and safe humanitarian access necessary to ensure the delivery of life-saving supplies and assistance to those in need. International aid organizations working in Yemen are ready to respond, but have not yet been able to do so at full scale. The continued fighting has resulted in limited access for humanitarian aid workers and severely jeopardizing their safety. Recent reports indicate that three Yemeni aid workers have been killed in crossfire in Aden while trying to save the lives of critically injured civilians. The international community must call on the parties in the conflict to guarantee aid workers safe access and passage to priority areas to ensure the delivery of lifesaving assistance. We are calling on all parties to immediately open land, sea and air routes into the country in order to facilitate the delivery of life-saving aid to the millions of people who continue to suffer from the impact of the violence. Reliant on imports to meet 90 percent of national food consumption, the continued closure of land, sea and air routes is exacerbating the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe. Fuel supplies, also largely reliant on imports, are now dwindling, and the effects are being felt at all levels. Access to water, often pumped by generator, is severely reduced. Without fuel to provide electricity and water, the ability of health facilities to operate life-saving equipment is severely hampered and transportation of essential commodities, such as food to the most in need, becomes extremely challenging.
Yemen has been caught in a protracted crisis and the recent escalation of conflict is exacerbating the situation. Before the escalation of violence, over 60 percent of the population – more than 16 million, including approximately 250,000 refugees - were already reliant on aid, and nearly a million children under five were suffering from acute malnutrition. What little infrastructure the country had is facing collapse. Water, electricity, fuel and food supplies are running low and prices for these essential supplies are increasing exponentially. Many hospitals have been damaged, made inaccessible, or are not functioning due to shortages of staff and essential medical supplies and fuel. This has severe consequences not just for the injured, but also for the approximately 700,000 pregnant women in the country, people with disabilities, and those who rely on recurrent health care.
The community of international humanitarian aid agencies working in Yemen ask for the full support of the international community in our humanitarian efforts in order to pull Yemen back from humanitarian catastrophe.