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Press Release

Yemen: Increase in fighting forces IRC to suspend critical life-saving programming

A major increase in fighting on the frontline between Ansar Allah (Houthi) and forces loyal to the Hadi government  in Al Dahle’e governorate has forced the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to suspend and relocate critical life-saving programming including mobile health clinics, cholera treatment, education and livelihoods support. Over the past 72 hours, 85 people are reported to have been killed on this single frontline, and a credible source has reported that 10,000 have died in the conflict in the past 5 month alone. Fighting in this area of northern Al Dhale’e, a main transport route between Aden and Sana’a is also complicating the already difficult task of moving vital medical and nutrition supplies around the country.

Frank Mc Manus, Yemen Country Director at the International Rescue Committee, said,

“Due to the fighting and concerns over the safety of staff and clients using our services, we have no option but to relocate and suspend a number of activities in Al Dhale’e. The IRC reaches over 10,000 people every week  with urgently-needed nutrition support for children and mothers, healthcare, immunization, cholera treatment and education for out of school children. We are relocating some services to support those displaced by this latest round of fighting, but others including our education programs cannot continue until the fighting calms. While the ceasefire in Hodeidah has largely held since the Stockholm agreement was signed at the end of last year, conflict elsewhere in Yemen has dramatically increased with devastating humanitarian consequences. Fighting in Al Dhale’e, Hajja, Abbs, and Taiz all serve to undermine the principle, if not the letter, of Stockholm. If the agreement is to lay the basis for an end to the violence in Yemen then it is critical that implementation is delayed no further and that parties return to the negotiating table to agree to a nationwide ceasefire and political settlement to end this war.

With 22 million people in need of aid, the Yemeni people are already living through the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Any suspension of aid programming can mean life or death, especially for the many children we are treating for malnutrition in this area. We are working to swiftly relocate our mobile health teams to reach those displaced by the fighting, however, it is critical that the IRC and other humanitarian partners are able to resume full programming as soon as possible to maintain care for this highly vulnerable population. The IRC will resume operations once the area is safe and accessible.

The impact of this round of fighting extends further for IRC’s clients. The suspension of our education programming means children will no longer have a respite from the hardships of living in a war torn country nor access to a safe space where they can receive the psychosocial support they need to begin to heal from the traumas of war. A planned cash distribution for 480 households is also at risk of being suspended, meaning those who have been displaced from their homes by the  fighting will not have the money needed to meet their basic needs and feed their families.

In the meantime, truly what Yemen needs most is an end to this war and a nationwide ceasefire, as clearly we have seen that a ceasefire in Hodeidah just means an increase in fighting elsewhere, more civilians killed and more suffering of the Yemeni people.”

The IRC has been working in Yemen since 2012 and rapidly scaled our programming in 2015  to address greater humanitarian need caused by the conflict. While the ongoing conflict and restrictions of air and seaports create challenges to our operations, the IRC has maintained access to affected populations in and continues to provide life-saving healthcare, economic empowerment, women’s protection and empowerment, and education programming.

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue-uk.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.