Oxfam has called on the UN Security Council to condemn the recent attacks in Yemen and inject new urgency into peace talks to end the seven-year conflict.
The call follows airstrikes that have killed and injured hundreds of civilians in the last week and led to the suspension of humanitarian aid in parts of the country. At the same time people are struggling with spiralling prices for food, fuel and basic essentials in what was already one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises.
Speaking from the capital, Sana’a, Abdulwasea Mohammed, Oxfam’s Yemen Advocacy, Campaigns and Media Manager said:
“People are really struggling. Last night we had more airstrikes. Everyone is frightened. Children are traumatised – we tell them don’t worry, it’s all fine, but they wake up to the sound of massive explosions just like we do. Each night we go to bed and just pray we wake up in the morning.
“We’ve lived with war for nearly seven years, but the last few days have been the worst and I’m worried about what the next hours will bring.
“The violence must end immediately so families can feel safe in their homes, and humanitarian agencies can resume lifesaving work. But we need more than a ceasefire, as in the past these have not led to sustainable peace. The UN Security Council needs to inject new urgency into talks to ensure an end to the conflict and all sides must agree to prioritise the lives of Yemenis above all else.”
This latest escalation has ground some urgent humanitarian work to a halt. Oxfam has been temporarily forced to suspend work in several areas due to concerns for staff safety and the movement restrictions imposed by the authorities due to the increased violence. Lack of fuel also threatens aid deliveries to vulnerable communities.
Over the last few days prices have spiralled due to the bombardment. Fuel has almost tripled in price, in turn driving up prices of essentials like food, water and medicines that are transported by trucks around the country. As over 80% of people in Sana’a rely on water delivered by truck, this price increase threatens a major public health emergency.
In many places fuel is not available, even on the unofficial markets. Electricity supplies are restricted as local private power grid companies are struggling to buy the fuel needed to provide electric power.
While necessities are pushed even further out of reach, the vital lifeline of remittance payments sent from family living abroad as well as domestic money transactions (hawalah system) was cut for days due to the lack of internet. The telecommunications outage left families struggling to make contact with loved ones, further adding to their trauma.
“In recent weeks, the UN Security Council has reacted strongly to violence against civilians in other countries emanating from Yemen, but not to widespread attacks taking place in Yemen. To fulfil its responsibility to uphold international peace and security, the Council must demonstrate the same concern for Yemenis as it does for others across the region and the world.”
Since the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen – the UN appointed body responsible for monitoring human rights abuses in Yemen – was disbanded in October last year there is no international monitoring of human rights violations. The Civilian Impact Monitoring Project reported that there was a 66% increase in civilians killed in the last three months of 2021 compared to the previous quarter.
Since the start of the conflict in 2015 over four million people have been displaced inside Yemen, many multiple times as frontlines shift. There have been nearly 14,000 civilian casualties and more than 20 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.