Yemen’s civil war has put the nation on its knees. Famine looms and the economy is nearing collapse. With a population of 24 million, it’s said that 80 percent are in need of humanitarian assistance, while nearly 10 million people are on the brink of starvation.
Five years of conflict have crippled the country’s infrastructures. Thousands have died in the conflict. Unemployment is at an all-time high – estimated at 60-70 percent. Millions of children do not go to school.
In addition, lack of adequate healthcare has led to the spread of disease and illness. In 2017, the country struggled against the largest cholera outbreak ever recorded, with over 1 million cases in one year.
“The economy is struggling, food prices are rising and the health service is near breaking point. There have even been deadly floods across southern Yemen, too,” says Karen Soerensen, Tearfund Country Director for Yemen.
And now, with the global pandemic, the tumultuous conditions Yemen already faced are worsening. With only half of all healthcare facilities in operation, the nation is incapable of coping with Covid-19. As coronavirus takes a stronger grip in Yemen, people fear that hunger and death rates will increase.
Even in such a brutal situation, there is reason to hope.
Our food distributions and cash-for-work projects that were in place before the pandemic hit are still in operation. Yemen authorities have granted our teams special permission to travel between cities despite the lockdown, which means we are able to reach more people.
Tearfund has also been working with partners on the frontlines to give out hygiene kits and information guides that include key tips for preventing the spread of the virus. Texting has also become a method for sharing prevention messages. So far, more than 5,000 guides have been distributed.
But the need is great and there is always more to do.