Fuel shortage in Yemen could become deadly

Oxfam has been supplying drinking water on a daily basis in Yemen for displaced families in Al-Zuhra. Oxfam

The delivery of food, water, and medicine all depend on fuel—now cut dramatically because of conflict and import restrictions.

Fighting in Yemen has killed almost 1,500 civilians, but now a new deadly threat looms: lack of fuel. Without it, Yemenis can’t get vital food, water, or medicine.

Because of restrictions imposed by the Saudi-led coalition, only 20 percent of the fuel Yemenis need to transport food, run their water systems, and treat their sick is getting through. Oxfam is warning that the consequences of the continued blockade could be dire.

 “After more than 100 days of fighting, people in Yemen need a sustained flow of supplies into the country, and a permanent ceasefire to allow fuel and other supplies to be moved around, otherwise, many more people will die unnecessarily,” said Phillipe Clerc, Oxfam’s country director in Yemen. “Without urgent action, shortages could kill more people than bullets or bombs.”

Lack of fuel has prevented authorities in Yemen from being able to pump clean water and 20 million people—80 percent of the total population—are now in need of a safe supply. The fuel shortages have also affected the availability of food in a country where 10 million people already were struggling to get enough to eat before the conflict escalated in March. The World Health Organization said at least 120,000 children could die if they can’t get clean water, adequate care, and food.

Though supplies of food and medicine have been allowed into Yemen intermittently, the amounts have not been enough to address the scale of the crisis. Despite the announcement of a several-day humanitarian pause beginning last Friday, ground fighting is ongoing.

In areas where Oxfam has been working, staffers report that fuel prices have quadrupled, and the price of wheat has risen by as much as 400 times. The cost of staple food items is now well beyond the reach of millions of Yemenis. Many have received no income for the third month in a row as most banks and post offices remain closed.

“People in Yemen are suffering the catastrophic combination of warplanes above, fighting on the ground, and a blockade all around,” said Clerc.  “The country urgently needs a permanent ceasefire and a lifting of restrictions on imports. Otherwise, this ever deepening, man-made and totally avoidable humanitarian crisis will drain the country of the few resources it has and push people to the edge.”

The conflict has forced more than one million people to flee their homes, and more than 21 million people now need humanitarian assistance. Within three months of the escalation of the conflict,  Oxfam had helped almost 100,000 people with aid, including cash payments to displaced families so they could buy basics such as food. Bringing clean water to those in dire need remains a priority, and we have provided tens of thousands of people with a reliable supply.

A ceasefire is needed to get life-saving aid to families that need it. We must act now. Sign the petition

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The people of Yemen are coping with years of conflict, an economic and public health crisis, and the threat of hunger and cholera.

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Safe water, sanitation, and hygiene save lives during emergencies and in the long-term struggle against poverty.

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