Amid escalating fighting for control of Yemen’s third largest city of Taiz, International Medical Corps is calling on the warring parties to provide relief agencies the humanitarian space needed to get emergency aid to civilians trapped in the violence.
“Our courageous colleagues in Taiz, who through five months of conflict have continuously delivered lifesaving assistance to residents of the city and surrounding areas, are now unable to do their work,” said Chris Skopec, International Medical Corps’ Senior Director for Emergency Preparedness and Response. “Our office in the city has taken direct hits, our team there can move only at great personal risk and our emergency relief supplies are inaccessible.
“To save the lives of those innocent civilians caught up in the fighting, emergency relief organizations operating in Yemen, who practice strict neutrality in the conflict, must be given the space needed to assist those in urgent need,” he stated.
International Medical Corps supports hospitals and clinics in Taiz, providing them clean water and medical supplies. It also provides mobile medical and nutritional care and distributes emergency supplies to conflict-affected populations from Aden in the south to Sana’a in the north. International Medical Corps is one of the few international humanitarian relief groups still operating in Taiz.
Skopec’s comment came as forces loyal to Yemen’s exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi engaged in an increasingly intense battle with Houthi militia units for control of the city. According to the United Nations, more than 4,000 deaths have been registered as a result of the current outbreak of violence that began last March. Roughly half of those deaths have been civilians. The true death toll is believed to be far higher.
Years of instability followed by the current war have caused great suffering in a country that is among the poorest in the Arab world. Four out of every five Yemenis are now in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UN and the World Health Organization estimates that three of every five Yemenis now lack access to healthcare.
“The conflict has placed an immense toll on Yemen’s health care system, which is understaffed and under-resourced at a time when the demands on emergency and lifesaving care are increasing by the day,” Skopec added.