1. To what extent has the situation for Yemenis deteriorated?
After another two years of war, the current situation is disastrous. More than 10,000 people have died so far during brutal conflict, and about 19 million people can’t survive without humanitarian aid. Many people reported that there are no possibilities to earn money in the cities. The public sector is on the verge of complete collapse, with most civil servant salaries completely unpaid for the last six months. About a quarter of the population worked in the public sector prior to the conflict – this has terrible consequences for their families: without money there is no food. At the same time, military actions near the coast have increased, greatly limiting the capacity to deliver food in these areas. Routes in the north are especially affected. Many families just don’t know how to nourish their children anymore.
2. Until now, CARE could provide aid for more then 1. 3 million people – what are the main difficulties the aid workers have to face?
To provide humanitarian aid in a country torn by an ongoing civil war is exceedingly difficult. In particular when attacks target and destroy critical infrastructure. Many colleagues in Yemen report that it is often challenging for the teams to get access to the people who desperately need help. Moreover there is not enough resources to help everyone. Therefore the teams have to make tough choices: Who gets priority when more than 14 million people are starving? Those affected also ask: Why don’t we get any help? My deepest respect for my colleagues and their stamina. Most of them are personally affected too. They themselves have had to flee, and their houses were bombed. But still, they help wherever they can and care about the future: How can you provide aid in the long term? How will it be after the war is over? According to them, the international community is obliged to provide long-term aid.
3. Speaking of long-term aid – how can it be provided in the middle of a war?
There is no end to the war yet in sight and food assistance will probably be needed for a long time. People need to have at least some income to survive. Therefore CARE has so-called “Cash for work” programmes. Whole villages benefit from the programme and people can earn a reasonable income. An example: On our way to the villages in the Wadha district we used a road, which was extended and repaired as part of a cash for work program. With this road, the village is better connected to markets and healthcare facilities. 300 villagers, both men and women, supported the construction. The programme and construction gave them the opportunity to obtain a short term income for their families, while helping the village as a whole.
4. Regarding Yemen, we speak about a “forgotten” crisis – Do the people in Yemen agree with that?
Yes, definitely. Many people asked me, why the main focus is on Syria and no one cares about Yemen? Of course the Yemenites notice that there are crises which always make the headlines and others which are rarely mentioned. They wish the international community would pay more attention to their current dire situation. They want a comprehensive political solution, because this will be the only way to end the suffering.
5. What experience did you find most concerning?
I’ve met many impressive people here in Yemen, but many of them are being pushed to their limits. Some villagers showed me their food cards, which highlighted that there were four distributions of food and money in their village for the past seven months. The villagers are concerned that funding for this program will soon finish. It is still six months until they are able to harvest and there are already people in this village who are starving. They cannot find paid work nor could they go anywhere else to assure their livelihood. They rely on humanitarian aid, like 70% of the people in Yemen. Yet only about 15% of the needed 2 billion Euros the humanitarian response in Yemen needs has been provided so far. This is a situation we are extremely worried about.
You can find more information on CARE's work in Yemen here.«All Stories and Blogs