The human cost of the war in Yemen is rising sharply as the conflict enters its eighth year, with the number of civilian deaths increasing sharply, hunger on the rise and three quarters of the population in urgent need of humanitarian support, Oxfam warned today.
The international agency said another year of war would bring unimaginable suffering to civilians – almost two-thirds of Yemenis will go hungry this year unless the warring parties lay down their arms or the international community steps in to fill a massive gap in the appeal budget. This year’s aid program is currently 70 per cent underfunded, providing just 15 cents per day per person needing help.
The escalating cost of war includes:
- 17.4 million people are currently going hungry, with predictions this will rise to 19 million by the end of the year (62 per cent of the population and an increase of more than eight million since the conflict started).
- 4.8 million more people need humanitarian assistance than did in 2015, the first year of the conflict.
- Since UN human rights monitoring was withdrawn in October 2021 the civilian casualty rate has doubled, now reaching well over 14,500 casualties.
- 24,000 airstrikes have damaged 40 per cent of all housing in cities during the conflict.
- During the last seven years, over four million people have been forced to flee from violence.
The Ukraine crisis has exacerbated the situation, raising concerns over supplies of grain and cooking oil. Yemen imports 42 per cent of its grain from Ukraine and Oxfam has been told prices have already started to rise. Seven long years of war have also caused a fuel crisis. Prices have risen 543 per cent since 2019, tripling in just the last three months.
The increase in fuel prices has a knock-on effect, increasing prices of essential items such as food, water and medicines making them unaffordable for many who are already struggling to meet their daily needs. It is also causing a reduction in humanitarian aid deliveries to more remote areas as the fuel prices have increased so much some remote communities are now experiencing a reduced delivery of water and sanitation support.
“Yemenis are desperate for peace – instead they are facing yet more death and destruction. Violence and hunger are on the increase once more and millions of people cannot get the basics their families need,” said Ferran Puig, Oxfam’s Country Director in Yemen.
“People can’t afford to pump water to irrigate their crops and in remote areas where people rely on trucked drinking water, they can’t afford to pay increased prices meaning they have to use water that is not safe to drink.”
Health facilities across the country could soon be forced to shut off life-saving equipment because of lack of fuel. During the last few days, local media in Taiz have reported that the Al Thawra hospital has stopped its operations due to the fuel shortage.
A spiralling currency devaluation means that what little income people may have buys less and less every day forcing Oxfam and other aid agencies to regularly increase the cash transfers they provide to support vulnerable families.
Civilian deaths and injuries in the conflict have doubled since the UN body responsible for monitoring violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen was removed in October of last year. There have been over 14,554 civilian casualties since recording by the Civilian Impact Monitoring project started in 2017. During the last seven years, there have been over 24,600 airstrikes across Yemen. In the last few months, shifting frontlines have led to an increase in landmine deaths and injuries around Marib where retreating forces lay them to slow down their opponents.
“Yemen desperately needs a lasting peace so people can rebuild their lives and livelihoods. Without peace, the cycle of misery will continue and deepen. Until then, adequate funding for humanitarian aid is critical,” Puig said.
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Notes to editors:
- The international escalation of conflict in Yemen occurred on March 26, 2015.
- Fuel price increase information up to mid-February: On the unofficial market, diesel is selling for US $40 for 20 litres in the North of Yemen while in the government controlled Southern areas sources say official prices were raised by 26 per cent in mid-January to 17,700 Yemeni rial (YR) for 20 litres (US $70) while sources put unofficial prices at around 28,000-30,000 YR for 20 litres (US $111-120). The price of 20 litres of cooking gas has more than trebled in Northern Yemen – prices are now 17000YR (US$28) on the unofficial market compared the official price of 4750YR (around US $8).
- Impact of fuel crisis on food availability https://fews.net/east-africa/yemen/key-message-update/january-2022
- Displacement figures https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/iom-yemen-rapid-displacement-tracking-yemen-idp-dashboard-reporting-period-06-12-march 4279 Households = 25,674 people
- Hunger figure of 19M and 75% of population will need assistance this year https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/under-secretary-general-humanitarian-affairs-and-emergency-relief-coordinator-martin-1
- Aid needs: 15.9M people needed humanitarian assistance – today the figure is 20.7M https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/2015-yemen-humanitarian-needs-overview vs https://hum-insight.info/plan/1077
- IPC hunger forecast 2022 https://www.ipcinfo.org/ipcinfo-website/alerts-archive/issue-58/en/
- IPC Hunger 2014 https://www.fao.org/resilience/multimedia/maps/detail/zh/c/277311/
- Figure for aid per person = 1.3 BN pledged for 2022 divided by 22.8 M(75% of 30.3M population)= $57 per person in need per year = 15c per day for each person in need
- Number of airstrikes in Yemen from https://caat.org.uk/homepage/stop-arming-saudi-arabia/the-war-on-yemens-civilians/#:~:text=The%20Saudi%20Coalition’s%20air%20war,were%20clearly%20identified%20as%20civilian.