People's Stories Peace

For hundreds of millions of people, conflict is a profoundly negative determinant of health
by Diane Misenga Kibeya
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
In an urbanizing world, armed conflict and violence are urbanizing too.
Increasing numbers of people around the world are living through armed conflict in towns and cities, or experiencing chronic urban violence. This affects their health severely.
Armed conflicts are increasingly taking place in cities and towns. Urban space is fought over in ways not widely known for decades - since the Second World War and the wars in South East Asia.
The experience of cities like Mosul, Mogadishu, Aleppo, Juba, Bangui, Sirte and Hodeidah now typify contemporary urban warfare and its intense civilian suffering.
I would like to set the scene of modern urban warfare and chronic urban violence. Then I would like to focus on three things: the impact of conflict and violence on health; the ICRC''s expanding humanitarian response in urban areas and call for greater respect of international humanitarian law (IHL) in urban armed conflict and the priority of safe access to resilient health services in armed conflict and urban violence.
War destroys and degrades urban life and space
Many urban communities in conflict today are forced to live under repeated bombardments from the air and from artillery. The use of explosive weapons with a wide area impact in densely populated areas is highly destructive of people, property, livelihoods and essential services.
Cities are often divided for months and years in stalemates between opposing forces. Battles to take and re-take towns and cities often leave much of them completely destroyed.
Millions of people have also experienced terrible conditions of life under protracted sieges or in "hard-to-reach" urban areas across Middle East wars, with their labyrinthine networks of checkpoints and frontlines that cross and confuse modern urban space.
Health care personnel, facilities, and transports as well as the wounded and sick are also frequently subject to acts of violence in conflicts today, very often in violation of the Geneva Conventions, so further degrading available health services.
The direct and indirect damage as well as gradual degradation of health services in conflict leads to situations like that in Yemen today where only 40% of the country''s health services are functioning.
War destroys urban space but it also creates new urban spaces as people are forced to flee within and across State borders. This is because they have fled there from unsafe rural areas to swell population levels in cities like Mogadishu and Maiduguri, or because they have moved within a city to find relative safety as frontlines change.
Most of the world''s internally displaced people (IDPs) now live in cities - many of them by staying with host families or by occupying abandoned and damaged buildings, construction sites or unbuilt ground. In the process they shape new informal settlements and slums.
Many others flee across borders to transform the urban space and demography of neighbouring or distant countries.
In the Middle East, urban space in Lebanon and Jordan has been transformed by millions of Syrians. In Uganda and Ethiopia, new urban space and informal settlements have been created by millions of South Sudanese fleeing conflict in their country.
Displaced people are often changing cities and making new cities in weeks, without any of the planning and services to accompany managed urbanization or urban growth.
Urban Violence
In other towns and cities across the world, chronic urban violence rooted in organized crime and gangs is entrenched, often in extremely concerning conditions of high homicide rates and the creation of large "ungoverned" urban spaces where essential services in health and education are eroded at best and failed at worst.
Urban armed conflicts and the almost epidemic spread of chronic urban violence pose a humanitarian crisis of safety and security that often exposes millions of people in towns, cities and informal settlements to serious protection risks.
These protection risks can dramatically change people''s levels of health and their access to health services.
The Impact of Conflict and Violence on Health
Armed conflict and violence are major determinants of health for people all around the world. We in the ICRC see this effect in people''s lives every day.
Conflict and violence cause ill-health directly by physical wounding, injury, sexual violence, or psycho-social stress which in turn may even result in mental health conditions.
Violence and conflict also lead indirectly to ill-health because of the spread of deprivation, impoverishment, displacement, destitution, hunger and disease they cause in people''s lives.
People''s health also deteriorates from conflict and violence because of the damage and gradual collapse of health services, and other essential systems and services that determine health like livelihoods, social protection, water systems and education.
Many of today''s conflicts last for decades as "protracted conflicts" in countries across Africa, Europe and the Middle East, and urban violence also overshadows people''s lives year after year especially in Latin America but also increasingly in Africa, Asia and Europe.
In a recent study on protracted conflict, the ICRC estimated that we have been operating in our top ten emergency operations for an average of 36 years.
This means that for many millions of people around the world, armed conflict is a multi-generational experience. Not surprisingly, its damage and duration has a deep and enduring impact on health and access to health services.
For hundreds of millions of people, conflict and violence are an entrenched and a profoundly negative determinant of health.
The ICRC has dramatically expanded its urban response in the last 15 years. Our humanitarian operations have undergone "an urban revolution" as we respond to people''s needs for protection, food, water, health, livelihoods and education in urban areas.
This sees us working across large and densely populated areas at a new scale – often supporting water and electricity supplies to millions of people across a country''s urban areas.
It also involves levels of technological sophistication and urban complexity unprecedented in our history as we work to ensure continuity and resilience in urban infrastructure of essentially middle income countries like Syria, Iraq and Ukraine.
To meet urban people''s immediate health needs and to counter erosion in the positive determinants of their health, we engage simultaneously on protection, water, sanitation, livelihoods and education to achieve health impact.
Doing this well means working closely with all parties to conflict, relevant authorities responsible for essential services and with technical partners from national and municipal government, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and business contractors with the skills to ensure service continuity in electricity, health, water, sanitation infrastructure.
Our work always carries a strong preventive purpose. In Maiduguri - a city rapidly expanded by internal displacement - only 30% of people have access to clean water services. This is a major challenge to health which we are working to correct.
Working in towns and cities has also brought us into contact with the widespread challenges of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and mental health and psycho-social support (MHPSS), in addition to the disease burden from infectious diseases.
These bring new operational dilemmas of health equity, and ICRC is re-shaping its health programming to a more holistic approach. We are expanding in community-based MHPSS services and strengthening our system of referrals for NCDs.
For example, in several cities, the ICRC ensures cold chain management for insulin and vaccines where the lack of electricity risks the safe delivery of medicines; and we strengthen health system resilience against the background of outbreaks and emergencies.
Safe access to healthcare remains a huge problem for people enduring urban warfare and urban violence. Safe movement and clear communication are critical here.
Often it is not safe to move freely in conflicted urban space and patients and health staff cannot reach health services, or fear to try. This is especially true if health services are perceived as being deliberately targeted by parties to conflict.
Knowledge about health services is another major break on access. A recent ICRC study found that people''s knowledge of available services is the main gatekeeper to accessing healthcare. Communities often don''t know about the health centre one block away, the nature of its services, who provides them, if they are eligible for them, and if they are free of charge. Communicating health service availability is a priority in contested urban space.
A call for greater respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL)
The rules of international humanitarian law (IHL) are clear about the need to protect the civilian population and to prioritize and protect health services for the wounded and sick, whether wounded and sick combatants or fighters or wounded and sick civilians.
In urban warfare today, the ICRC calls on all States and all parties to conflict to respect IHL. It also calls on all States supporting parties to conflict in various ways to ensure that their partners respect IHL. And we urge all parties to pay particular attention to the following three priorities:
Stop and prevent attacks against healthcare – protect healthcare facilities, transport, personnel and patients from all forms of violence and attack.
Avoid the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area in densely populated areas, where they can bring about indiscriminate civilian harm and destroy, damage and disrupt critical infrastructure on which essential services depend.
Actively support the continuity of resilient urban services on which civilian populations depend by facilitating the provision of relief and humanitarian action, and ensuring people''s safe access to these services.
Although IHL does not apply to cities affected by chronic urban violence, the challenge of safe access to health services and other essential services that determine health – like water, electricity and education – are equal priorities in parts of towns and cities affected by chronic urban violence.
I hope I have shown how urban warfare and urban violence are major and negative determinants of health for many millions of people around the world. The vital humanitarian agenda to protect these people is clear.
The importance of ensuring safe and effective health services in armed conflict and chronic urban violence – and the other essential services which determine people''s health – is also essential if there is to be any chance of delivering on Sustainable Development Goal 3 for the world''s poorest people who live in fragile and conflict affect areas.
(Address by Diane Misenga Kibeya, Deputy Head of Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross to the African Union to the 15th International Conference on Urban Health. Kampala 30 November 2018)

Visit the related web page

Yemen''s Food Insecurity situation remains Dire
by NRC, ICRC, Unicef, OCHA, agencies
Dec. 2018
Yemen: Acute Food Insecurity Situation December 2018 - January 2019
Yemen''s Food Insecurity situation remains Dire despite humanitarian assistance reports the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)
According to the latest IPC analysis, from December 2018 to January 2019, while accounting for the current levels of Humanitarian Food Assistance (HFA), 17% of the population analyzed (about 5 million people) are in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency) and 36% (about 10.8 million people) in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis). Of greatest concern are the 65,000 people in IPC Phase 5 (Catastrophe).
Overall, this constitutes 15.9 million or 53% of the total population. It is estimated that in the absence of HFA, about 20 million people or 67% of the total population (including Internally Displaced People - IDPs) would be in need of urgent action to save lives and livelihoods. This includes 240,000 people in IPC Phase 5 (Catastrophe), i.e. threefold the actual number.
Food insecurity is more severe in the areas with active fighting, and is particularly affecting IDPs and host families, marginalized groups, as well as landless wage labourers facing difficulties in accessing basic services and conducting livelihood activities. Overall, there are more than 3 million IDPs in Yemen who face comparatively worse food security outcomes.
In terms of severity (areas in IPC Phase 3+), the worst affected areas are located in Al Hudaydah, Amran, Hajjah, Taiz and Saada Governorates. In terms of magnitude (population in IPC Phase 3+), each of the governorates of Al Hudaydah, Amanat Al Asimah, Dhamar, Hajjah, Ibb and Taiz have more than one million people in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) and above, while 13 governorates without HFA would have populations experiencing catastrophic food gaps. They include; Abyan, Aden, Al Bayda, Al Dhaleé, Al Hudaydah, Al Mahwit, Amran, Hadramout, Hajjah, Ibb, Lahj, Saada and Taiz.
Armed conflict remains the main driver of food insecurity in Yemen, curtailing food access for both the displaced and the host communities. The food security crisis is further exacerbated by extremely high food prices, the liquidity crisis, disrupted livelihoods, and high levels of unemployment. The large food gaps are only marginally mitigated by Humanitarian Food Assistance which is not adequate to reverse the continuous deterioration of the situation.
Key Drivers of Food Insecurity:
The ongoing conflict and the resultant economic crisis. Disrupted financial and economic access to food. High food prices. Reduced local food production. Access to low quality water and in diminishing quantities
Nov. 2018 (UNICEF)
"Millions of desperate children and families across Yemen will soon be without food, clean water or sanitation services because of the deepening economic crisis and unrelenting violence in the port city of Hudaydah. The confluence of these two factors is likely to make the horrific reality facing children and families even worse as more and more war-weary people face the very real prospect of death and disease.
"The cost of food, fuel and water supplies has skyrocketed as the value of the national currency has plummeted.
"Water and sewage treatment services are at risk of collapse because of soaring fuel prices - meaning many of these same children and families may also be without access to safe water and sanitation. This in turn will lead to disease outbreaks and increased malnutrition - both of which, in combination with food insecurity, raise the risk of famine. An estimated 1.2 million more people will soon be in acute need of basic water and sanitation assistance, and the number is expected to climb in the coming days.
Families who can no longer afford basic food items could soon join the 18.5 million people who are already food insecure - a number projected to rise by 3.5 million, including nearly 1.8 million children.
"These conditions, devastating in their own right, are compounded by the situation in Hudaydah where violence threatens to kill children and choke off an essential supply chain of fuel and humanitarian aid that sustains 28 million Yemenis.
"If the port is attacked, damaged or blocked, an estimated 4 million more children will become food insecure throughout the country.
"The only way out of Yemen''s nightmare is to establish peace through a comprehensive political resolution. Until then, UNICEF continues its call on parties to the conflict and those who have influence over them to abide by their legal obligations to stop attacks against civilian infrastructure - including the port of Hudaydah - and guarantee safe, unconditional and sustained access to all children in need in Yemen."
“People in Yemen face two horrifying menaces: war and hunger. Civilians have paid the heaviest price for the conflict. Millions are displaced and millions go to bed hungry every night,” said Fabrizio Carboni, the ICRC’s regional director for the Near and Middle East.
An ICRC team in Hodeida this week spoke of dreadful living conditions for many thousands of displaced families who own only the clothes they wear and survive on a little rice or a thin mix of flour and water, if they find any food to eat at all.
The depreciation of the Riyal, reduced imports and difficulty of movement in the country have had alarming repercussions on the country’s already catastrophic humanitarian situation.
Indebted and vulnerable, millions across Yemen survive on one meal per day. “Every day many Yemeni families must choose between food and medicine,” Carboni said.
The cost of living has skyrocketed. Prices for flour, sugar, rice and milk have increased by 30 percent since last month and surpass the modest budgets of most Yemeni families, whose savings have been depleted by long years of conflict.
Clean water and medication are also a luxury in Yemen, where vital infrastructure is crumbling, a fact that has led to an increase in infectious diseases such as cholera and measles.
According to the World Food Programme 08.11.18: "Yemen is the largest hunger crisis in the world. Millions of people are living on the edge of famine and the situation is getting worse by the day".
Oct. 2018: Briefing by Mr. Mark Lowcock, Emergency Relief Coordinator (OCHA) to UN Security Council, on the humanitarian situation in Yemen, and impending famine - UN WebTV:
15 Oct 2018
UN warns that famine could overwhelm country within months, with 13 million people at risk of starvation.
Yemen could be facing the worst famine in 100 years if airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition are not halted, the UN has warned.
If war continues, famine could engulf the country in the next three months, with 12 to 13 million civilians at risk of starvation, according to Lise Grande, the agency’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen.
She told the BBC: “I think many of us felt as we went into the 21st century that it was unthinkable that we could see a famine like we saw in Ethiopia, that was just unacceptable.
“Many of us had the confidence that would never happen again and yet the reality is that in Yemen that is precisely what we are looking at.”
13 Sep. 2018
Hundreds of thousands of civilians are terrified by fighting in Hodeidah - Report from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen.
“Hundreds of thousands of lives hang in the balance in Hodeidah,” said Ms. Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen. “The situation has deteriorated dramatically in the past few days. Families are absolutely terrified by the bombardment, shelling and airstrikes.”
“People are struggling to survive,” said Ms. Grande. “More than 25 percent of children are malnourished; 900,000 people in the governorate are desperate for food and 90,000 pregnant women are at enormous risk. Families need everything--food, cash, health care, water, sanitation, emergency supplies, specialized support and many need shelter. It’s heart-breaking to see so many people who need so much.”
Hodeidah is a life-line for millions of people who depend on assistance. Close to 70 percent of all humanitarian assistance and nearly all commercial food stocks for northern Yemen enter through the ports of Hodeidah and Saleef, just to the north of Hodeidah.
“The mills in Hodeidah feed millions of people. We’re particularly worried about the Red Sea mill, which currently has 45,000 metric tonnes of food inside, enough to feed 3.5 million people for a month. If the mills are damaged or disrupted, the human cost will be incalculable,” said Ms. Grande. “So much has already been destroyed. In the last six weeks alone, houses, farms, livestock, businesses, roads, a water facility and a flour mill have all been hit.”
Since mid-June, when the fighting started, humanitarian partners have provided emergency assistance to 366,000 people in Hodeidah Governorate; 116,000 people have received cash grants and 152,000 have benefitted from emergency supplies and shelter. During four days of tranquility in early August, humanitarians vaccinated 380,000 people against cholera. This past month, partners distributed food assistance to 700,000 people across the governorate.
“The human cost and the humanitarian impact of this conflict is unjustifiable,” said Ms. Grande. “Parties to the conflict are obliged to do absolutely everything possible to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure and ensure people have access to the aid they are entitled to and need to survive,” said Ms. Grande.
Yemen is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Twenty-two million people, 75 per cent of the population, require some form of humanitarian assistance and protection, including 8.4 million who do not know where their next meal will come from.
Aug. 2018
UN chief condemns air strike that hit school bus in northern Yemen, killing scores of children. (UN News, agencies)
UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Thursday condemned an air strike by pro-Yemini Government coalition forces, which killed scores of children who were on board a bus travelling through a busy market area in the northern province of Saada.
Initial news reports indicate that the number of casualties could be well above 60, with dozens severely injured. Most of the children were reported to be aged between 10 and 13.
In his statement, the UN chief called "on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular the fundamental rules of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack," emphasising that all parties must take "constant care to spare civilians and civilian objects in the conduct of military operations".
The Secretary-General called for an "independent and prompt investigation" into this incident and extended his "deepest condolences" to the families of the victims.
The Head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also strongly condemned the incident and urged the warring parties and international community "to do what’s right for children and bring an end to this conflict".
“Attacks on children are absolutely unacceptable,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “I’m horrified by the reported airstrike on innocent children, some with UNICEF backpacks. Enough is enough.”
“How many more children will suffer or die before those who can act, do by putting a stop to this scourge?".
“Attacking children is the lowest any party of this conflict can go,” UNICEF Yemen Resident Representative Meritxell Relaño told UN News. “There is no justification whatsoever to attacking children.”
According to the UN Children’s Fund, since conflict between pro-Government forces and Houthi rebels escalated in 2015,at least 2,400 children have been killed and over 3,600 maimed in Yemen.
The head of the UN agency called on all warring parties to “respect international humanitarian law,” and spare children, civilians and civilian infrastructure to prevent Yemen from falling “further into the abyss and humanitarian catastrophe” that it has been facing for over three years.
Attacks against civilians have been the scourge of this conflict, with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reporing, “civilians killed in violence in several governorates” in the past 10 days alone. On 3 August, during a particularly deadly attack, one of the last functioning hospitals, Al Thawra in Al Hudaydah, was struck, reportedly causing the death of dozens of vulnerable, sick and injured civilians.
“It’s hard to believe we live in a world where children should live in fear of such attacks, yet here we are. This doesn’t have to be their reality though. Parties to the conflict and those who have influence over them, including Security Council members, can and should choose to end this catastrophe for the sake of Yemen’s children,” stressed the UNICEF chief.
“We’ve said this before and we are saying it again - parties to the conflict are obliged to do everything possible to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure. This is not a voluntary commitment - it is mandatory on all belligerents,” said Lise Grande, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, in the latest OCHA report on the situation there. “So many people have died in Yemen - this conflict has to stop.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross said the strike hit a bus filled with children at the Dahyan market in Saada.
"A hospital supported by our team in Yemen received the bodies of 29 children under the age of 15 and 48 wounded, including 30 children," the ICRC said. A spokesman for the Red Cross in Sanaa told AFP the toll was not final as casualties from the attack were taken to several hospitals.
The Save the Children charity, quoting its staff, said that at the time of the attack the children were on a bus heading back to school "from a picnic when the driver stopped to get a drink".
"Save the Children condemns this horrific attack and is calling for a full, immediate and independent investigation into this and other recent attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure," it said.
"Grotesque, shameful, indignant. Blatant disregard for rules of war when bus carrying innocent school children is fair game for attack," Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said.
Aid agency CARE International noted, "The latest air strike, only a week after the attacks on Hodeida city, demonstrates a continued disregard for human life and suffering," said Johan Mooij, the agency''s country director in Yemen. "It is beyond cruel; innocent children''s lives have been lost."
July 2018 (Reuters, agencies)
Yemen is close to famine after a 25-percent increase in levels of severe hunger this year and an offensive on the main port city of Hodeida, a lifeline for millions, humanitarian organisations warned on Monday.
Thousands more people have been displaced by the conflict and many are having to skip meals and beg on the streets, they said, with an estimated 8.4 million people already on the verge of starvation.
"We perceive the country to be sitting on a knife edge in terms of famine - it could tip at any time really," Suze van Meegen, spokeswoman for the Norwegian Refugee Council, told the Thomson Reuters foundation by phone from the capital, Sanaa. "The desperation we are seeing is becoming greater - more people are begging in the streets."
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said four in every 10 children under five were now acutely malnourished, and put the number of people displaced since the Hodeida offensive began at 200,000.
"Averting famine in Yemen will be contingent on the ability of WFP and other humanity agencies to reach the populations in need to sustain humanitarian assistance," said Stephen Anderson, Yemen country director for the WFP, by phone from Sanaa.
Three thousand children on average are being displaced from Hodeidah every day, reports Save the Children
A fresh wave of violence that''s seen bombing escalate and deadly clashes erupt south of Hodeidah City is putting the lives of thousands of children in extreme danger, Save the Children is warning. Even before the latest increase in violence, an average of 6,238 people-half of whom are children-were fleeing Hodeidah Governorate every single day.
In little more than 50 days (June 1st to July 24th) the constant threat of bombing, shelling, starvation and a lack of basic services displaced a total of 330,610 people from Hodeidah according to the United Nations.
The journey for those trying to flee, however, is often no safer-with families having to brave minefields, airstrikes and being forced to cross areas of active fighting all in a bid to escape the embattled governorate.
Civilian casualties in the most impacted districts more than doubled in the start of July as the fighting moved to more populated areas, according to the UN''s Refugee Agency.
Even if they make it out, the villages and communities where they flee to are overwhelmed and simply can''t cope with the influx of people or provide them with essential services. This is putting the whole country at risk, leaving the most vulnerable living in crowded conditions and struggling to find enough food, water or medicine to survive. This could lead to extreme food insecurity or an outbreak of cholera, measles or diphtheria, diseases that have already taken hold in Yemen and disproportionately affect weak and/or malnourished children-leaving an already weakened health system on the verge of collapse.
Save the Children''s Yemen Country Director, Tamer Kirolos, has just returned from Hodeidah. He described what he saw there:
"Since I was last here just two months ago, Hodeidah City has become somewhat of a ghost town. The streets are empty even in the day and there are checkpoints everywhere. The devastation that airstrikes and shelling have caused is clear to see."
"Hodeidah was already the poorest governorate in Yemen-which is the poorest country in the Middle East-before this latest offensive and it simply can''t handle another blow. People fear they will die whether they stay or they flee but even if they manage to get out their lives remain in danger. With the economy in tatters and health and sanitation facilities throughout the country destroyed, conditions are now rampant for disease and starvation to spread. Aid agencies are doing what they can to keep people alive but ultimately, our efforts are just a sticking plaster on a gaping wound."
"We must see an immediate ceasefire to avoid any more civilian casualties and we call on all parties to continue to negotiate with the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths in good faith, to achieve a workable peace deal that will bring an end to this brutal war and to the suffering of 22 million people in Yemen."
June 2018
Pro-government forces in Yemen, backed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Gulf States, have begun attacking the coastal city of Hudaydah held by Houthi rebel fighters. The city is a key port where most commercial goods and humanitarian aid arrives in Yemen.
The military strikes began after Houthi rebels ignored a deadline to withdraw from the city by midnight.
The port is a lifeline for the majority of Yemen''s population and the UN had been trying to get parties to the conflict to reach a deal that would avert an attack.
An estimated 600,000 people live in the area. Robert Mardini, regional head for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said the attack was "likely to exacerbate an already catastrophic humanitarian situation".
''Lifelines to the outside world must be maintained, including the Hodeida port and the Sana''a airport. Real people, real families, will suffer if no food is getting in, and we are concerned that ongoing military operations continue to hamper the arrival of essential goods.
We are concerned about Hodeida''s essential infrastructure, including its water and electricity networks, which are vital to the civilian population''s survival.
The ICRC urges all parties to the conflict to respect civilian life by taking every possible measure to protect civilians, and to allow safe passage for those who want to escape the fighting''.
"Under international humanitarian law, parties to the conflict have to do everything possible to protect civilians and ensure they have access to the assistance they need to survive," Lise Grande, UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, told Reuters news agency.
The organization warned the coalition against striking the city amid concerns a battle could worsen one of the world''s worst humanitarian crises and cause some 250,000 deaths in a worst-case scenario. International UN officials were ordered to leave the city on Monday.
BBC correspondent Nawal Al-Maghafi:
''If the battle is prolonged, it will leave millions of Yemenis without food, fuel and other vital supplies.. In reality, families in Hudaydah are already starving and desperately relying on humanitarian aid. Reporting from the city last year, I saw children who were severely undeveloped, their ribs protruding. They were living off a peanut-based paste provided by aid agencies. The hospitals were desperately trying to do what they could but were overwhelmed by cases of malnutrition and cholera. Now this battle threatens to push these people completely over the brink. Meanwhile, the possibility of the warring sides returning to the negotiating table seems even more remote''.
Atrocity Alert No. 109, 13 June 2018: Yemen - Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
Today, 13 June, a major military offensive on the Red Sea port of Hodeidah began following an intensification of fighting between Yemeni government forces - backed by a Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE)-led military coalition - and Houthi fighters. Saudi and UAE-backed government forces are on the southern outskirts of the Houthi-controlled city of 600,000 people. On Monday, 11 June, it was reported that an estimated 600 people had been killed during fighting in the al-Durayhmi and Bayt al-Faqih areas. The UAE reportedly gave all humanitarian workers in Hodeidah three-days to evacuate prior to launching today''s offensive.
Yemen is currently the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with 10.4 million people at risk of famine. Hodeidah is the entry point for 70 percent of the aid upon which over 22 million Yemenis depend. The attack on Hodeidah places millions more people at risk of starvation and could violate UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions 2140 and 2216, regarding obstruction of the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
On Friday, 8 June, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned that a sustained battle or siege of Hodeidah could lead to the deaths of as many as 250,000 civilians.
Since 2015 all parties to the conflict in Yemen have used indiscriminate weapons in civilian populated areas and targeted civilian infrastructure, amounting to possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Norwegian Refugee Council''s Country Director in Yemen Mohamed Abdi said:
"Hodeida port is no less than Yemen''s lifeline. Yemen is almost totally reliant on imported food, medicine and fuel, up to 80 percent of which historically reached the country through Hodeida. An attack on the port would damage pivotal food and fuel pipeline for millions, risking deepening Yemen''s already acute food and health crisis"
"Any attack will have catastrophic consequences for civilians - risking hundreds of thousands of lives. We call on all parties to the conflict to refrain from any further military activities in and around Hodeida city."
"We urge the US, UK and France - as those country that can influence the Coalition - to immediately issue a clear and unequivocal warning against an attack on Hodeida city or port. These countries, working closely with the UN Special Envoy, have a critical role to play to prevent further suffering in Yemen, which is already the world''s worst humanitarian crisis."
Attack on Hodeidah multiplies horror and death in Yemen - CARE
As the offensive on the key Yemeni port of Hodeidah has begun, CARE International in Yemen warns that this will have a catastrophic impact on the civilian population. “We have had more than 30 airstrikes within 30 minutes this morning around the city. Some civilians are entrapped, others forced from their homes. We thought it could not get any worse, but unfortunately we were wrong,” says Jolien Veldwijk, CARE’s acting Country Director in Yemen.
“This attack risks more people dying, but it also risks cutting the lifeline of millions of Yemenis. Food imports already reached the lowest levels since the conflict started and the price of basic commodities has risen by a third. We are gravely concerned that parts of the population could experience famine,” says Veldwijk.
According to the UN more than a quarter million people could lose everything, including their lives. The civil war in Yemen has already cost the lives of more than 10,000 people, and is labelled as today’s worst humanitarian disaster. More than 22 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, more than 8 million people already face the risk of starvation.
“The attack on Hodeidah as the main point of entry for aid in Yemen will multiply horror and death in Yemen,” says Veldwijk. “We urge all parties to refrain from any further military activities in and around Hodeidah city and the port. People are already exhausted, starving, and have no means to cope with any further escalation of war.”
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore:
“As Hodeida faces the threat of an assault, I am extremely concerned about the impact it will have on children in this port city and beyond.
“UNICEF estimates that at least 300,000 children currently live in and around Hodeidah city – boys and girls who have been suffering for so long already.
“Millions more children throughout Yemen depend on the humanitarian and commercial goods that come through that port every day for their very survival. Without food imports, one of the world’s worst malnutrition crises will only worsen. Without fuel imports, critical for water pumping, people’s access to drinking water will shrink further, leading to even more cases of acute watery diarrhea and cholera, both of which can be deadly for small children.
“There are 11 million children in need of humanitarian aid in this war-torn country. Choking off this lifeline will have devastating consequences for every one of them''.

Visit the related web page

View more stories

Submit a Story Search by keyword and country Guestbook