“We fled our home because of war, we were vulnerable to the bombing and hearing its roar over our heads from inside the house. We were living in constant fear.”
Six years of conflict.
Six years of destruction.
Six years of suffering.
Yemen, now left unrecognizable, remains the world’s largest humanitarian crisis with four out of every five people needing humanitarian assistance. Almost four million people have been displaced by the fighting — with widespread destruction to the country’s health and water infrastructure leaving Yemen acutely vulnerable to COVID-19.
SEE FOR YOURSELF: Six Years of War, Stories of Survival
But as the causalities of war and those facing catastrophic levels of hunger continue to tick upwards, lost in the sea of numbers are the people whose lives have been forever changed. Despite facing violence and food insecurity daily— it is the same people who dream, and hope, of seeing better days.
Risking it all and leaving everything behind, Hanan fled Al Hudaydah with her two young daughters and started her journey to Aden. She recalls, “It was really hard. We were afraid along the way. We went through a lot of checkpoints for inspection. Our trip was fraught with risk until we got here. It was worse than the indiscriminate bombardment that we went through."
She now lives in the Ammar bin Yasser Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp, a place called home to 1,785 people. "I found a floor mattress in the garbage to sleep on but I don’t have blankets and sometimes, when it rains, the tent floods with water."
Women and Conflict
With conditions continuing to deteriorate, the impacts of conflict have devastating consequences on women. 73 per cent of people who have been displaced are women and children, and women are often first to skip meals or eat smaller portions so that the family ration goes further. More than one million pregnant or breastfeeding women are also acutely malnourished. As a single mother, Hanan provides all food, water and medicine for her children — scavenging for empty cans and plastic bottles to make what little income she can.
Yemeni women, especially those who are displaced, are increasingly struggling to access hospital and medical services, as well as legal services as they have lost their identification papers, or never held them, and no longer have the means or infrastructure to obtain them.
Incidents of violence against women have increased by more than 63 per cent during the first two years of the conflict. The UN has estimated that 3 million women and girls in Yemen are at risk of gender-based violence. A 2017 study by Oxfam’s local partner AWAM Foundation also found although many women had become the main breadwinners for their families as a result of the conflict, men still took on key decision-making roles in most communities.
Since the confirmation of cases of COVID-19 in Yemen in April 2020, Oxfam has refocused its work in Yemen to respond to the pandemic. We are distributing hygiene kits for the most vulnerable households, and trucking in clean water to camps for people who have had to flee their homes. We have also given cash for food to families affected by flooding.
Across Yemen, we’re training community health volunteers to spread the word about COVID-19 and the importance of hygiene and hand-washing. Due to fuel shortages and to ensure that IDP camps and host communities have continuous access to clean water — Oxfam is working to construct and rehabilitate water systems with a renewable energy source using solar panels to power water pumps.
Since July 2015, Oxfam has:
- Helped more than three million people in nine governorates of Yemen with clean water and sanitation, cash assistance and food vouchers.
- Provided clean water and sanitation to more than one million people, including in hard-to-reach areas of the country, through providing water by truck, repairing water systems, delivering filters and jerry cans, as well as building latrines and organizing cleaning campaigns.
- Reached approximately 280,000 individuals each year with cash for work projects that allow people to be paid for rehabilitating essential infrastructure, such as roads and water systems, across nine governorates in both the south and the north of the country.