A two-month ceasefire between Yemen’s internal warring parties was extended last week for an additional two months with the same terms as the original agreement. But for the 4.2 million still living in tents and depending on humanitarian aid – many since the war began seven years ago – relief can’t come soon enough, Al-Monitor reported.
The original ceasefire first came into effect on April 2 and, while the truce has not entirely stopped the war, it has resulted in less civilian casualties, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), an independent humanitarian organization which has been assisting those Yemenis who have been forced to flee their country.
One month prior to the ceasefire, 213 Yemeni civilians had been killed or injured in the battle-scarred country, however, that number was reduced to 95 – almost 45% – the following month, according to the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project.”
“The parties to the conflict have agreed to the United Nations’ proposal to renew the current truce in Yemen for two additional months,” UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg announced in a press statement on June 2.
Grundberg noted that fuel deliveries have increased considerably and commercial flights resumed to and from Sana’a International Airport after almost six years, while more de-escalation efforts are being negotiated by the UN.
“By agreeing to implementing and now renewing the truce, the parties have provided a rare glimmer of hope to Yemenis that an end to this devastating conflict is possible.”
Despite the “glimmer of hope” described by Grundberg, displaced Yemenis are fighting for their lives and remain desperate in their own country after being battered by the seven-year conflict between Yemen’s Saudi-led military government coalition and Iranian-supported Houthi rebels. The war has resulted in a humanitarian crisis said to be among the worst in the world, due to widespread hunger, disease and attacks on civilians.
“Yemenis are living on aid, some of them surviving on one meal per day,” said Mohammed al-Maqrami, media director of the Coalition of Humanitarian Relief. “We value all the relief efforts, and we appeal to the consciences of the world, but mainly those of our Yemeni decision-makers and warlords who have never considered the scale of the tragic catastrophe that only the Yemeni people are paying for since the fateful military coup [the Houthis’ takeover of Yemen in 2014].”
“The displaced people are the most persecuted ones who are suffering the brunt of the war, with no shelter, no water, no education for their children, nothing,” Maqrami continued. “All they wanted was to live in peace away from the hellish war that is relentlessly chasing them from one governorate to another, without any radical solutions in the offing.”
Abdullah Ali, a Yemeni refugee from the Hajjah governorate in northwestern Yemen, lives with his family in a dilapidated tent in the desert of Wadi Obaida after having been displaced several times.
“As a result of the fluctuation in temperatures and the heat of the desert sun, my children are now suffering from rashes and blisters caused by the heat,” Ali said.
“To bring water for my children, I have to walk for 1.5 kilometers to the nearest city (Marib). I don’t have any means of transportation. Sometimes I ask my neighbor to accompany me. Hospitals and basic services are also far from us. Some mobile clinics visit our area, but they don’t have all the medicines we need, such as sedatives,” he continued.
“We also lack new blankets and mattresses; the ones we are using are old and in very bad condition. We are trying to lead a normal life after despair took over, and we have come to realize that the humanitarian organizations’ aid is not sufficient.”
The newly-announced two-month ceasefire extension means that displaced Yemenis can expect to endure similar conditions until at least Aug. 2.