Do more to save lives in Yemen, urges Islamic Relief’s CEO

Islamic Relief’s Chief Executive urged governments to “find it in your hearts to do more to assist the people of Yemen” when he speaks at a crucial aid pledging conference in Geneva on April 25.

“The scale of the crisis in Yemen cannot be overstated,” Naser Haghamed said in his speech at the conference, which was jointly hosted by the UN and the Governments of Switzerland and Sweden. “Unless we all step up to the plate and increase aid, unless we hear the cries of the Yemeni people, tens of thousands of lives could be lost in the coming months.”

Nearly 19 million people in Yemen need humanitarian aid to survive – more than in any other single country in the world. Food security is out of reach for 14 million people. Many essential items have doubled in price, and half a million children under the age of five are suffering from acute malnutrition.

Naser Haghamed told the story of Anisa, who has lost her husband and is trying to care for five children on her own in Taiz. One child has epilepsy, while another suffers from constant fainting. Anisa has sold all her possessions including jewellery and livestock to feed her family and to pay for medical treatment that has not been effective. “All they have left are the clothes they are wearing,” Naser said. “Their survival depends completely on aid from organisations like Islamic Relief.”

Islamic Relief has been working in Yemen since 2004. It operates in 18 of the country’s 22 governorates, delivering aid to many hard-to-reach areas. It has provided food aid to 2.5 million people since 2015 through a $37 million partnership with the UN World Food Programme, and this year it is increasing its aid programme in Yemen by 5 per cent to $6.4 million.

“We are ready to do much more if additional pledges are made in Geneva,” Naser will say. “The people of Yemen need this brutal conflict to be brought to an end. Until that happens they need a significant increase in aid and they need humanitarian pauses in the conflict – temporary ceasefires that make it possible to deliver aid more safely and effectively. They need aid workers and medical facilities to be able to do their life-saving work without being attacked.

“As I think of our brothers and sisters in Yemen, I am reminded of a powerful saying of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon Him. He likened humanity to a single man or a single body. If the eye is afflicted, he said, then the whole body is afflicted. If the head is afflicted, then the whole body should feel that pain.

“Can you find it in your hearts and in your budgets to do more to protect and assist the people of Yemen? The UN, Islamic Relief and others working on the ground are ready to scale up our response with your support.”