21 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Yemen. Photo: Nuha Mohammed/NRC.

Yemen crisis rapidly growing darker

Published 04. Dec 2017
While the blockade on commercial supplies to Yemen still stands, heavy clashes in Sana’a and northern governorates is putting already vulnerable civilians in even greater risk.

New fighting between the Houthi and General People’s Congress (GPC) security forces broke out on Saturday in Sana’a and several other governorates in northern Yemen.

“No one is safe in Sana’a at the moment. I can hear heavy shelling outside now and know it is too imprecise and too pervasive to guarantee that any of us are safe,” said the Norwegian Refugee Council´s (NRC) Protection and Advocacy Adviser, Suze van Meegen from a basement where NRC staff have gathered to seek protection from the ongoing fighting in Sanaa.

Humanitarian operations suspended

Ground clashes and airstrikes are ongoing at the moment with each side of the conflict in control of different neighbourhoods. This is effectively leaving civilians, as well as aid workers, in the middle of airstrikes and heavy fighting.

“I spoke to a colleague today who is trapped, his house between two checkpoints and surrounded by snipers. He and his family are sheltering in their basement, without any electricity, listening to tanks roll by outside,” van Meegen said. 

Humanitarian operations across Sana’a and northern governorates are suspended. Roads into Sana’a are blocked, checkpoints are tense and the airport is unreachable because of heavy fighting.

"This violence is completely paralysing humanitarian operations. We cannot move from our houses. Sana’a is in hibernation and with it, so is any chance of reaching people with food, water, healthcare or education,” said van Meegen.

“Bringing a whole nation to its knees”

Early reports indicate that dozens have been killed and many more injured, including civilians. More violence will have a devastating effect on Yemeni people, infrastructure and services.  

“The current violence will bring a whole nation to its knees. In just a few days, the fighting has killed and injured civilians, including children. Facilities have been closed and medical personnel have been forced to flee their posts for safety, leaving the sick and injured even more vulnerable,” said van Meegen. “An already catastrophic crisis is being made worse and hundreds of thousands of deaths could ensue in the short term as a result”.

From before, the conflict has led to an estimated 10,000 people killed, and close to 60,000 injured. 3.1 million people have fled their homes while a staggering 21 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

NRC urges all parties to the conflict and those with influence over them to work toward an immediate ceasefire, restore basic public services, lift the blockade on commercial imports to Hodeida and take responsibility for a peaceful and sustainable, political resolution.

Together with three other aid agencies, NRC sent a joint statement urging immediate ceasefire today. Read the full statement here