Yemeni civil war more devastating than Covid-19 pandemic

KUALA LUMPUR: The raging civil war in Yemen is more devastating than the current global Covid-19 pandemic, claiming the life of a child every ten minutes!

More horrendous was the collapse of the Yemeni riyal currency from YER215 to the United States dollar in 2014, to nearly YER900 this year – massively weakening the people’s purchasing power for essentials, with five million facing famine.

Making this shocking revelation, Yemeni ambassador to Malaysia Dr Adel Mohamed Ali Ba Hamid said that the atrocities committed at the war was the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, since violence broke out in late March 2015.

He said his country was daily bombarded by missiles, bombs and drones by the ruthless rebel militia, making almost 80 per cent of its nearly 30 million population homeless and killing 233,000.

“The cumulative impact of more than six years of conflict, economic decline and institutional collapse has left 24 million people in need of humanitarian aid and protection.

“Already, 13.5 million, or about 45 per cent, of our people are facing acute food insecurity.” he said at the launch of the ‘Help Yemen’ relief campaign by a coalition of Malaysian and Yemeni foundations to assist their war victims at the Royal Hadramawt Restaurant in Plaza Flamingo, Jalan Hulu Kelang in Ampang.

The foundation aims to ease the deteriorating humanitarian conditions and acute food insecurity of Yemenis.

Present were Altawasul Development Foundation chairman and International Islamic University Malaysia special assistant to the deputy rector Prof Dr Dawood A. Al-Hidabi, Organisation of Graduates of Educational institutions Malaysia (Haluan) humanitarian mission bureau secretary Mohd Jamil Muda, Sabasun HyperRuncit managing director Che Salmi Che Ibrahim, Malaysian Relief Agency secretary-general Dr Shahrizal Azwan Samsudin, Humanitarian Care Malaysia (MyCare) chairman Associate Prof Dr Hafidzi Mohd Noor, Yemeni Community Association Malaysia executive committee chairman Dr Abdullah Al-Hajjaji and representatives from Global Peace Mission and, Development and Human Relief Society (Insan).

Adel Mohamed said that among the war dead were 131,00 as a result of indirect causes like lack of food, health services and infrastructure.

“Due to the growing poverty among Yemeni families and the rising number of casualties and detainees of men, many women become vulnerable for abuse and are involved in underpaid jobs,” said Adel Mohamed.

The escalating conflict saw the rapid increase in displaced people.

A 2020 United Nations international Children’s Educational Fund report found 4.4 million Yemenis were displaced, with 73 per cent involving women and children.

“These victims are vulnerable to disease outbreaks, natural disasters, socio-political and economic issues.

“They lack health and educational facilities, and even clean drinking water,” he said.

The Unicef report also revealed that of the 12.2 million children in need of humanitarian assistance, 3.6 million under five years old suffered malnutrition while 2 million of them were out of school resulting in a spike in child labour.

Meanwhile, Shahrizal said that MRA has begun its humanitarian mission in Yemen since April 2017 by disbursing drinking water, sanitisation, hygiene, food, medical supplies, and educational, livelihood and economic empowerment tools at conflict area camps in governorates at Taiz, Ma’rib, Shabwah, Lahj, Al-Jawf, Abyan, Mukalla, Aden, Sana’a, Hadramawt, Hudaydah and Seiyun.

“This also included solar-power water pumps at wells. We dished out nearly RM1.3 million worth of aid to almost 140,000 victims,” said Shahrizal.

He added that under the Ramadhan and Qurban programmes, MRA successfully dished out flour, rice, cooking oil, beans, tomato paste and pasta to the victims last week.

“We have also to date handed out RM480,000 worth of anti-cholera hygiene kits and medical equipment at our mobile clinics, like in Arroudha and Al-Joufyna camps in Ma’rib, benefitting nearly 19,000 patients.

“Additionally, 8,414 benefitted from RM11,700 worth of educational tents erected at Syukur Schools at Ma’rib and Sana’a,” said Shahrizal.

Another project MRA undertook last month was the RM4.3 million goat farming initiative for 40 people in Lahj, aimed at providing employment opportunities, generate income and improve their socio-economy.

All these, Shahrizal said, was MRA’s effort to help its Yemeni brothers and sisters through its motto ‘The best man is he who is best to mankind’.

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