The ICRC's director for the Middle East, Robert Mardini, has said the humanitarian situation in Yemen is deteriorating fast and a massive international effort is needed to relieve the suffering. The ICRC has announced it's stepping up its operations and doubling its budget for the country this year to 90 million dollars. It's estimated that 70% of the population in Yemen is in need of some form of humanitarian aid.
An ICRC surgical team has been deployed to the port city of Hodeidah and another one is due to arrive in Aden. The number of ICRC's international workers in the country is being doubled and the number of national staff is increasing by a third.
"The needs are massive and time is short. Famine threatens. At the root of the suffering is the ongoing conflict. It's ripping the heart out of the country. Only 45% of medical facilities are functioning. International humanitarian law is being flouted with civilians and civilian infrastructure paying the price," said Mr Mardini.
"Another major issue that needs to be dealt with are the severe restrictions placed on the import of goods and the movement of such goods and medicines within the country. Yemen depends on imports. People are suffering and dying not just from the fighting, but from from chronic illnesses and disease. We need to see this stranglehold relaxed. It'll help greatly in the relief of the peoples' suffering.'
The ICRC is also very concerned about the lack of meaningful access to detainees being held by all sides, reports of deteriorating conditions of detention and an absence of family links. It is important for parties to the conflict to allow ICRC staff to visit, as soon as possible, people arrested in relation to the conflict, and to re-establish links between those being held and their families.
"The ICRC remains ready and willing to assist in this area. All people detained in connection with the current conflict should be visited. This could make a strong contribution to the building of mutual trust between the different sides," said Robert Mardini.
Mr Mardini's comments came on the day that the United Nations co-hosted a major international conference in Geneva with Switzerland and Sweden to appeal for more funds to tackle the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
For further information, please contact:
Soumaya Beltifa (English/Arabic), ICRC Sana'a, tel: +967 73 607 1967
Iolanda Jaquemet, ICRC Geneva, + 41 79 447 37 26
Ewan Watson, ICRC Geneva, + 41 79 244 64 70