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Yemen enters fifth year of conflict as ‘dystopian parallel universe where worst nightmares have become a reality’

After four years of conflict, Yemen now seems like a ‘dystopian parallel universe where worst nightmares have become a reality’, said Najat Elhamri, Islamic Relief’s Head of Middle East and Europe, who has recently returned from the country. She added:

“I have been an aid worker for more than 15 years and worked on some of the worst humanitarian crises of the 21st Century from Niger to Syria. I didn’t think there were many things left that could shock me but what I saw on the ground in Hodeida, Sana’a and Aden when I visited this month chilled me to my core.

“To make matters worse, fears are now rising that we could be on the brink of a fresh cholera epidemic, with the disease believed to have infected well over one million people.

“This is upsetting for anybody but as a mother, when you compare what life is like in Yemen, to my life at home, it doesn’t just feel like another country, but a dystopian parallel universe where your worst nightmares have become a reality. The crisis in Yemen is human-made, and the international community must do all it can to find a political solution to this catastrophe.”

Islamic Relief’s head of mission in Yemen, Muhammad Zulqarnain Abbas, says:

“For the last four years, the people of Yemen have been held hostage to bombs, bullets and been forced to endure a near total collapse of basic services such as health and sanitation which have claimed tens of thousands of lives. While there were hopes that the initial agreement for a ceasefire in Hodeida would have held, our staff in the city are telling us of an increase in heavy fighting and are seriously concerned for the impact this will have on civilians. The warring parties must adhere to the ceasefire and allow aid agencies to carry out life-saving interventions.

“As the conflict has lurched on and on, it has trapped families in an impossible situation of having to choose between feeding themselves or their children. After four years of war, an estimated 24 million people need humanitarian aid or protection – including a staggering ten million people who are at risk of starvation. These are big numbers, almost impossible to comprehend.”

Islamic Relief has new content available from Yemen, including video interviews, GVs, still photos and written case studies of the following:

Ahmed Ali had to sell all of his sheep to treat his daughters for severe malnutrition. His six children often have to share a biscuit between them as that’s all they have. His wife was malnourished while pregnant and now their new-born baby Abbas, pictured, is severely malnourished.

Shoeyah was also malnourished while pregnant and she is not able to produce breast milk for her baby Adnan, who is severely malnourished.

Mohammed Abdu also had to sell his livestock to feed his children. He used to travel to Saudi Arabia for work but can no longer do that because of the war. His daughter, Eryam, pictured below, is severely ill with malnutrition. He took her to be treated and this didn’t work, so he tried a local custom – branding children with hot iron – effectively to take the mind off the pain of hunger with a greater pain.

Ahmed Mor’ie fled for his life with his family after his sister’s house was bombed killing one of her daughters and injuring another. They walked for miles and are now struggling to survive having to pay rent for one room that houses a family of eight. Two of his children returned to a conflict zone to fish as they are so desperate for money.


For more information and/or interviews please contact Louise Orton at [email protected] or call +44 7939 141 764

Notes to Editors

Working in 17 governorates, including in very remote areas, last year alone Islamic Relief assisted more than 2.6 million vulnerable people – providing food, clean water and sanitation, helping to rebuild livelihoods and treating malnutrition.

We are now stepping up food distributions across Yemen and alongside the World Food Programme, will deliver much needed food supplies to 2.2 million people every month.

Islamic Relief recently pledged to spend $7.6 million on humanitarian efforts in Yemen at a High Level pledging conference in Geneva in February.

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