Aid workers deliver assistance in war-torn Yemen despite huge challenges
Yemen remains the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Millions of Yemenis suffer the consequences of intense fighting compounded with looming famine, outbreaks of epidemics, and preventable diseases.
The devastating war between the Houthis on one side and the Government of Yemen plus the Coalition on the other is now in its fifth year. More than 24 million people, 80% of the population, are in need of urgent humanitarian aid and protection and as the war continues, the humanitarian situation grows worse each day. More than 5 million Yemenis in need of humanitarian assistance live in areas that are extremely difficult to reach due to fighting, insecurity and restricted access. Despite this, EU-supported humanitarian aid workers manage to deliver critical aid to millions of people.
These photos highlight the reality of life in a war-torn country.
Civilians in the rubble of buildings destroyed in an air raid. Since the beginning of the war in 2015, the European Union has allocated more than €430 million in humanitarian aid to the country.
A group of children, displaced by fighting in the Yemeni city of Hodeidah, participate in catch-up classes in the Rabat camp near the Yemeni city of Aden. The classes, offered during the summer break, are organised by the EU’s humanitarian partner Save the Children.
A man cools down in the Rabat camp near Aden. The population of Yemen, especially those living in displacement camps, are desperate for safe water. As the war enters its fifth year, aerial bombing campaigns and ground fighting have all but destroyed the country’s water and sanitation infrastructure.
When people use unsafe water sources in unhygienic environments, the risk of diseases such as diarrhoea, a major killer of children below the age of 5, increases. In response, humanitarian aid groups provide water either by trucks, or by drilling or repairing boreholes. In Rabat, Danish Refugee Council, with the help of EU funding, provides each inhabitant with 15 litres of clean water every day.
A girl displaced from Hodeidah, a vital port city on Yemen’s western coast. Fighting has driven more than 500,000 people from the city. They all depend on humanitarian aid.
An EU-supported health worker prepares a vaccination shot at a mobile health clinic in a camp housing thousands of displaced Yemenis. Last year, EU-funded health services provided vital healthcare to more than 600,000 Yemenis.
A displaced girl living in the al-Shaab camp in Aden. As the country grinds into the fifth year of war, more than 4 million people have fled their homes. In 2018, more than 685,000 fled their homes, mostly due to renewed fighting in Hodeidahh governorate and along the west coast.
Asrar, 15, fled fighting in the port city of Hodeidah in January 2019. Since then, she has been living in al-Shaab camp in Aden, a cluster of makeshift shelters in Aden. “I used to be clean and wear nice dresses,” she said. “We have nothing now.”
A patient recovers in an EU-supported diarrhoea treatment centre run by the non-governmental organisation International Rescue Committee (IRC) in the town of Al-Dhale. The public health situation across Yemen is dire, with several epidemics reported by health organisations. The country has been struggling with a massive cholera outbreak since 2017 with close to 1.5 million suspected cases. The war has impaired the country’s infrastructure for providing clean water and sanitation, leaving millions of children without access to safe water.
A team from the IRC visits a displacement camp near the town of Al-Dhale. Aid workers screen children for malnutrition, distribute food supplements and vaccinate children against measles and other diseases. Small girls and boys, ribs prominently visible, line up to get measured and weighed. Many of them have been screened before and the team is now following up on their progress.
Millions of people in Yemen are edging closer to famine. People in this displacement camp near the town of Al-Dhale mostly eat rice with vegetables. “No one can afford meat,” one community member says. There are no jobs in the area and community members collect discarded soda cans to be sold for recycling. A large sack, which usually takes a day to fill, brings in 200 Yemeni rials which have the equivalent value of less than one euro (€).
The population of Lamkmat al-Hajfar camp near the rural Yemeni town of Al-Dahle fled the fighting in Qatabah, a district slightly north of their current location. This improvised settlement, which roughly 600 people now call home, is one of the many camps that have sprung up in the past few months following an increase in fighting.
Aisha lives in a ramshackle camp near Aden. Her mother is unable to breastfeed and she cannot afford food. The severely malnourished Aisha is now treated by an EU-supported mobile UNICEF health team which visits regularly.
A young Yemeni collects water at a makeshift camp. Last year, EU-funded aid organisations provided clean water and sanitation to close to half a million people.
People receive water provided by Solidarités International, an EU-supported aid group. The community live in an extremely dry area in Yemen’s Hodeidah governorate and water is scarce.
Text and photos by Peter Biro, regional information officer, European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)