Yemeni Aid Worker: "We Need Safety, We Need This Conflict to End"

Our team in Yemen faces immense challenges as they deliver lifesaving aid in some of the country’s hardest-hit areas.

After four years of conflict, living conditions in Yemen continue to deteriorate. As safety and security decline, families struggle each day to find the basic items they need to survive. Action Against Hunger is on the front lines, responding to what the United Nations has called “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

Across four regions of Yemen, our teams are working in approximately 60 health facilities. We are: 

  • Treating acute malnutrition in stabilization centers and through home-based care;
  • Providing essential medical treatments and supporting medical staff more broadly; 
  • Rehabilitating water points and latrines, promoting healthy hygiene, and distributing hygiene kits; and 
  • Providing immediate support vulnerable displaced families through cash-transfers to cover basic food needs.

 “A Crisis of Access”

The protracted conflict in Yemen has severely complicated our operations, especially when it comes to supporting people in the hardest-to-reach communities. 

“This crisis is a crisis of access, or rather of lack of access,” says Isabelle Moussard Carlsen, Director of Operations for Action Against Hunger’s France office. “Yemeni people no longer have access to adequate health care, food, or safe drinking water. Humanitarian workers do not have access to intervene or meet the scale of needs. The crisis in Yemen … impacts the daily lives of women, men, and children, who are deprived of everything.” 

Aid organizations, including Action Against Hunger, are concerned about the continued shrinking of humanitarian space. 

"The crisis in Yemen … impacts the daily lives of women, men, and children, who are deprived of everything.”

Administrative obstructions – such as requests from authorities to share data on the people we serve or interventions in internal procedures – are common intimidation practices that impede our ability to deliver humanitarian aid in a timely manner. Our teams continue to face challenges in obtaining visas for international staff. In addition, limitations are imposed on national aid workers, restricting travel. These obstructions delay delivery of essential and lifesaving humanitarian services.

Yemeni civilians must be allowed to access assistance quickly, safely, and without conditions. Action Against Hunger urges the international community to support measures that protect Yemeni civilians and to pressure their allies to find a peaceful political solution to the conflict.

“What we really hope for the people of Yemen is that the ceasefire will hold and that all parties will stick to the terms of the agreement and make peace last,” says Véronique Andrieux, Executive Director of Action Against Hunger’s France office. 

“We eat only once a day, and mostly only the free bread that the local baker gives us in the morning. If you could say to the powerful people to stop the war and to help us, please.”

Photo: Florian Seriex
for Action Against Hunger,
Yemen

“It has turned the country upside down”

Action Against Hunger in Yemen is powered by a team of about 270 people, most of whom are Yemeni. Many have experienced the devastating effects of conflict first-hand. 

In his own words, a member of our water and sanitation team, Mohammed,* writes of his family’s displacement: 

I am from Arat district, the first district exposed to the conflict in Yemen. The conflict started without any warning. It was shocking, and it surprised everybody. 

The first people displaced were from Arat, and my family was among them. We left with only our clothes; we did not take any of our belongings, furniture or jewelry. The airstrikes made us fear for our lives. 

We settled in Hodeidah. It was hard for me to provide for them. We are three families: my immediate family (my wife and daughters), and my sisters and their families. A major consequence of the conflict was a salary cut for state workers. My sisters were state employees, so I am now the only one able to take care of the family's needs. My mother has chronic diseases and needs medicine weekly, and I also cover these expenses. 

After a year or two, we were surprised to see the conflict extending to southern districts, until it reached Hodeidah. When the intense airstrikes and clashes reached the outskirts of Hodeidah, my family started to panic.

I moved my mother, my sisters, and their families to Hajjah, and I took my wife and daughters to Sana’a. Due to the huge displacement wave to Sana’a, there is a real estate crisis and I am still looking for an apartment. Everything suddenly became very expensive: apartments, rent, food…There are no salaries and, at the same time, there is a catastrophic increase in food prices. I know families who live in shelters and only eat once a day. 

"When the intense airstrikes and clashes reached the outskirts of Hodeidah, my family started to panic."

My son-in-law was a rich man in Arat. Suddenly he had to take his family to Hodeidah and had to sell everything he owned. His children cannot go to school because they had to move several times. His family could not stay in Hajjah, because of the cost of shelter and food, so they moved to Abs, where they got some aid from humanitarian workers and organizations. 

We need safety, we need this conflict to end. It has turned the country upside down and disturbed everything. If there is security, there is food, psychological stability, hospitals working, salaries running, and health facilities providing care.

* name has been changed    

Action Against Hunger is the world’s hunger specialist and leader in a global movement that aims to end life-threatening hunger for good within our lifetimes. For 40 years, the humanitarian and development organization has been on the front lines, treating and preventing hunger across nearly 50 countries. It served more than 21 million people in 2018 alone.