“Covid-19 has made the future for Yemen worse - the number of hungry people is climbing higher and higher” 

Mohammed, an Oxfam aid worker in Yemen

Mohammed speaks to displaced people at the Ammar Bin Yasser camp in Aden, Yemen. Photo Kaff Media/DEC

“When Covid-19 arrived, our hospitals were just too weak and ill prepared to cope. Seven years of war in Yemen destroyed half of our health infrastructure and many doctors haven’t received salaries for four or five years. Where I am in Aden, we have only two health centres that are equipped to respond to Covid-19. They have very limited beds and only a few people can get assistance.

People are panicking 

Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, people here have been panicking. They haven’t known where to go or how to get help. It’s expensive for people in Yemen to get a Covid-19 test - there’s no place to get the test for free - so they can’t even find out if they have Covid-19 or not. Because of this and the cost of treatment, many people don’t go to the hospital until they are very sick and sadly this means they’re more likely to die. To fight coronavirus, we need more health centres, more oxygen, more PPE, and medical supplies. And still only 1% of people have access to vaccinations. 

Lately there’s been a real escalation in Covid cases and deaths in Yemen – a third wave.  Even with little testing, we found this October that there was a three-fold increase in Covid cases and a five-fold increase in the death rate.  

The people of Yemen are in a very tough situation. Even before Covid, millions didn’t have enough food to eat. And the global pandemic has just made things much worse; people have lost their jobs, there’s been a currency crisis and rapidly rising food prices all make it much harder for people to put food on the table. Everyday food such as rice, bread, chicken, fish, oil, vegetables, eggs and milk have tripled in price since the pandemic started. 

Hunger is climbing

70% of families are now struggling to get food and are suffering. We’re already seen cases of real hunger in different areas and once we can get to the very rural areas, we will see more difficulties.    

The future looks very bad, with Covid, or without Covid. But from what we've seen in Yemen, the number of hungry people will climb higher and higher – that is for sure. 

In the beginning many people didn’t understand much about the virus and how to avoid it. So, Oxfam worked with a popular national radio station and 20 times a day messages about Covid-19 were broadcast. These messages really helped the population get information and understand Covid-19. People did stay at home, schools closed, markets closed, and I'm not saying all, but 50-60% of people followed the rules. And that really helped.  

Life-saving help 

Oxfam has been working hard to give people access to clean water. We’ve been building hand-washing stations, latrines and we’ve supplied hygiene kits to help people fight the Covid-19 outbreak. We’ve provided cash and other basic items to help save lives.   

But the need is enormous and not every Yemeni is getting this life-saving help. Tragically things are getting worse. We don’t have enough resources for everyone, so we put a lot of energy and focus on identifying the areas where there is most need and get help to the most vulnerable people.  

 It might not be enough, but whatever we give to the people – whether it’s cash transfers so people can buy food, medicines and other essentials or help with their livelihoods – we are seeing their smiles and they are thanking us. 

We cannot stop the crisis, but we can provide hope to people.” 

Thanks to your support, DEC member charities have been able to provide water for drinking and washing, hygiene kits, Covid-19 awareness, cash and food, health and nutrition and livelihood support to help thousands of people in Yemen survive the pandemic. 

The DEC Coronavirus Appeal has also supported vulnerable people in Afghanistan, DR Congo, India, the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh, South Sudan, Somalia and Syria.  

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