August 17

Yemen: more Aid, fewer Arms

Written by Samah Hadid , Former Campaigner for Oxfam Yemen 

A big win in Sweden

Everyday I’m flooded with images from Yemen on my Facebook feed and from media outlets. Photos of children, women, men, the elderly; lining up for food, or with their empty yellow buckets in search of water. I also see the kilometer-long lines for fuel. And while I know these pictures are not unique to Yemen, the desperation of the people has reached a new level. The numbers on Yemen get worse by the day as more and more people go without food, water, and basic aid.

Although Yemen has been the poorest country in the Middle East for a long time now – with over half of the country living under the poverty line – it is now on the brink of a humanitarian disaster due to the armed conflict tearing the country apart.

The last five months have seen Yemen bombarded with bombs, airstrikes, shelling and armed ground-fighting, fueled by an unregulated and irresponsible transfer of weapons to both sides of the conflict, which has driven the already poor country into further impoverishment.

Before the conflict, an estimated 10 million people needed assistance with food and water, now after the just five months, 21million people are in need of life-saving assistance. This amounts to 80% of the population that relies on aid to survive.

These 21 million people desperately need food and water and yet this is exactly what is missing.

Armed conflict and street violence have caused severe insecurity on the ground, this has made it virtually impossible to bring in life saving supplies and aid. And yet, while aid is unable to get in, arms are imported and move around unabated. A sea of arms is fueling the violence, spurred externally from the Saudi-led coalition, and internally from Houthi forces on the ground, making it even more unsafe for food and other aid to be transported to those in the greatest need.

The way conflict creates and worsens poverty is clearly reflected in Yemen at the moment. Pre-existing and newly imported arms in Yemen have exacerbated insecurity and turmoil. Lack of imports and aid not reaching those in need because of armed violence will send the country to the point of collapse. And while the resilience of the people of Yemen is to be admired, the world cannot sit watch as arms are transferred into the country and aid is not.

Yemen is a stark example of a country in dire need of more aid and fewer arms.

 

 

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