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War, hunger, lack of drinking water and diseases: humanitarian organizations try to help the civilian population in Yemen, but the situation is getting worse, says Marten Mylius, coordinator of the NGO Care.
QA: Mr. Mylius, you travel regularly to Yemen and have many collaborators in the country. What is the current situation in Yemen?
Marten Mylius: In the fourth year of war it is estimated that 80 percent of the population depends on humanitarian aid. The food situation is especially worrisome. Since Yemen imports most of its food and due to the blockage of ports, prices have gone up a lot. At the same time, people’s income declined. Unemployment is very high. State officials did not receive a salary in the last two years. The people are very indebted. Many suffer from malnutrition. We estimate that eight million are on the brink of famine.
Last year, more than a million people became infected with cholera and around 2,000 people died from the disease. Soon the rainy season begins. How big is the danger of a new epidemic?
The danger is very high. There are still new cases of cholera and the rainy season is an accelerator. In addition, the conditions under which cholera emerged have not improved in any way. Access to drinking water has become more difficult with the blockade.
As a humanitarian coordinator, he tries to provide access to food, drinking water and medical attention. But can help reach the places where it is most needed?
There is war in Yemen, but it does not mean that there is war in all places at the same time and with the same intensity. There are regions that we can access relatively easily. And then there are places, like the city of Taiz: that city is in the front line of the fighting. We continually have to negotiate access to the population with different sides. There are months when we do not have any access.
The danger of another cholera epidemic like last year is high.
Over the weekend there were again attacks in a residential area in which twelve civilians were killed. To what extent is the civilian population affected by air attacks?
Air attacks are a constant danger. When I’m in Sanaá, there are phases or days when there are only one or two air attacks. But there are also phases of massive attacks in which civil institutions are affected. People fear for their children. He never knows if they will return from school. The danger is lower in towns and smaller places. Therefore, many sought refuge in the villages.
According to the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, Yemen needs around 2,400 million euros in aid. This is three times the amount of last year. Can only money help to eliminate the misery of the population in Yemen?
No, of course not. That would be just a fight against the symptoms. Anyone in Yemen would say the following: we need a perspective for the future. This war has to come to an end. The longer it lasts, the harder it will be. We have already seen that in Syria. The peace talks that were completely paralyzed for a year must continue. The longer this war lasts, the greater the danger of it becoming internationalized. War is a problem created by man and can not be solved with humanitarian means.