Fifty years, fifty countries: Yemen

50 CountriesConflictHungerYemen

To mark 50 years of Tearfund, we’re sharing about 50 countries where we’ve worked, celebrating God’s provision and power to transform, and praying for each of these nations. This week we’re in Yemen.

For millions of Yemeni people, life today is hard – really hard. The nation is facing the prospect of the worst famine the world has seen in 100 years, as well as regular large-scale outbreaks of cholera. Rightly it’s being referred to as the ‘world’s worst humanitarian crisis’.

After nearly four years of civil war Yemenis are facing multiple crises, including armed conflict, mass displacement of people, and the risk of famine and disease outbreaks. Thousands have died in the conflict, and nearly 80 per cent of the country (22.2 million people) are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Since April 2017 there have been 1.15 million cases and 2,401 associated deaths from cholera in Yemen (figures accurate August 2018). Children under five years of age make up more than 30 per cent of the total suspected cases.

So, where do we look for hope?
As we pray for each of the nations we work in this year, here is a story of how a Tearfund partner in Yemen is reaching out to help tackle the cholera crisis. May it encourage you to keep praying and supporting our efforts to bring an end to extreme poverty.

Fleeing home
Before the conflict Mr Naje and his family lived in a vibrant Yemeni community. Now his home has gone, people have fled, and debris from buildings destroyed by rocket strikes litter the streets.

Mr Naje made the difficult decision to move to another city over 150km away. This wasn’t easy for the 65-year-old, who is chronically ill and has been without work since the start of the war. He is responsible for the families of his two sons, both killed in the war. He and his wife resorted to begging, to survive.

In many places, water costs have doubled or tripled making it unaffordable for many families.

Due to a sharp fall in the value of the Yemeni currency, the average price of basic food items as well as water and fuel has drastically increased since the war. Mr Naje’s family were spending YR10,000 (£31) for water per month. But now, in many places, water costs have doubled or tripled making it unaffordable for many families. 

Unsafe water
Few families have a regular income, and struggle to get enough money to meet the most basic needs. The lack of safe water for drinking together with unsafe hygiene practices increase the risk of diseases such as cholera, diphtheria and diarrhoea.

Mr Naje’s family told our partner staff that they rarely washed their hands and the children would wear the same dirty clothes for a week at a time. As they had to collect water the children were often too busy to go to school, and were too tired and sick to play.

Fully committed
Tearfund is supporting local partners responding to the crisis in Yemen:

• Providing food to vulnerable households. 
• Improving access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. 
• Improving health, hygiene and overall nutrition of families in cholera-affected areas.

One of our partners was able to give Mr Naje and his family a water tank, toilet, hygiene kit and a water filter. They also shared advice on good hygiene practices. The family has now committed to handwashing at critical times.

Mr Naje’s grandsons and granddaughters are now able to go back to school – even with clean clothes. He says: ‘Now I feel like the international community cares about me and my family.’

PRAYER FOCUS:

• Thank God for the transformation experienced by Mr Naje and his family, but pray for all those who still lack access to basics such as safe water.
• Pray for peace in Yemen, which is much needed to help alleviate the current food crisis.
• Ask God to protect our partners, as they seek to help those in greatest need.

Missed articles in this series? Find them here. Find out more about Tearfund’s work in Yemen.

Please give now for people suffering in Yemen.

In the unlikely event that we raise more than is needed to support our partners, your gift will be spent where the need is greatest.


Andrew Horton

Andrew is Online News and Film Editor for Tearfund. This involves finding and writing up inspiring articles for the website, and capturing compelling stories on video.