Yemen’s humanitarian crisis continued to escalate on the days approaching a United Nations-planned ceasefire, which was to take effect on Friday, July 10 at 23:59 local time and last until the end of Ramadan on July 17. Since late March 2015, when fighting broke out, the people of Yemen began to experience ever-deteriorating humanitarian conditions.
According to UN News Centre, “In the past three months alone, some 3,000 Yemenis have been killed, half of them civilians, and 14,000 others injured. Over a million people have had to flee their homes and 21 million need immediate help, close to 13 million people are unable to meet their food needs, 15 million people have no healthcare and outbreaks of dengue and malaria are raging unchecked.”
Unfortunately, the planned week-long ceasefire lasted only hours before Arab coalition-led air strikes and fighting broke out once again, ending the UN-brokered truce. No side, neither the Houthis nor the Arab coalition forces, took responsibility for having broken the agreement.
UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric expressed the vital importance of a legitimate ceasefire: “it is imperative and urgent that humanitarian aid can reach all vulnerable people of Yemen unimpeded and through an unconditional humanitarian pause.”
After the failed ceasefire, Stephen O’Brien, the United Nations emergency relief coordinator, called upon all parties to attempt to once more put a pause to the conflict in order to access those in need and to provide people with proper humanitarian aid.
Nevertheless, UN agencies and other organizations have seen breakthroughs in aid and success in accessing those in need of humanitarian assistance through constant persistence. On July 14, 2015, the World Health Organization reported that it delivered supplies to Aden, which included “46.4 metric tonnes of medicines, medical supplies, and water and sanitation supplies for more than 84,000 beneficiaries in eight districts of Aden governorate”—an area which suffered a rise in dengue fever and malaria as a result of the conflict’s limiting access to healthcare.
The WHO also managed to dispense bed nets to over 9,000 households and provide residual spray materials and equipment, along with house-to-house spraying conducted by trained staff.
Subsequently, UN News Centre reports that the “WHO has distributed a total of more than 175 metric tonnes of medicines and medical supplies and more than 500,000 litres of fuel to maintain the functionality of main hospitals, vaccine stores, ambulances, national laboratories, kidney and oncology centres, and health centres in 13 governorates, reaching a total of almost five million people, including 700,000 internally displaced persons and 140,000 children under the age of five.”
Furthermore, as fighting escalated in Aden, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced what could only be described as “a major breakthrough”: the WFP’s first ship docked in the Al-Buraiqa port in the city of Aden, bringing with it 3,000 metric tonnes of food—enough to sustain 180,000 people for a month—and relief for the many food-insecure Yemenis, totaling at about 13 million people.
As the conflict rages on and the people of Yemen continue to suffer in ruin as a result of war, their survival lies in the hands of international aid organizations, which, even through war-ravaged times, are committed to their mission to aid those most in need, wherever they may be.
– Jaime Longoria