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Yemen: Fuel crisis pushes sickest children to the brink

Thousands of children in Yemen are on the verge of losing access to life-saving healthcare as the country faces its worst fuel crisis since the start of the conflict, Save the Children said.
14 March 2022

Health facilities across the country are being forced to shut off ventilators and other life-saving equipment because of a sharp drop in fuel imports. Many hospitals have warned they risk shutting down completely if the delivery of fuel continues to be delayed and restricted.

The lack of fuel in Yemen is also impacting people’s ability to move around – with reports of 6km-long queues at gas stations in Sana’a – and will have a ripple effect on food prices, access to water, and humanitarian aid.

“I had to stay in my car for two days straight in the longest queue I have seen in my entire life [at a gas station],” said Aisha, 55. “The men’s queue was far longer. I had six meals in the car delivered by my son just to make sure I did not lose my place in the queue.”
 
The crisis has been triggered by a combination of tighter restrictions on fuel shipments into Yemen’s Red Sea ports and long holding delays. Fuel vessels are waiting an average of 112 days in the coalition holding area – a staggering 543% increase compared to 2019 (17.4 days). As a result, the arrival of fuel into Yemen’s Red Sea ports has dropped sharply, with 70% less of it arriving in January compared to the same period last year.

Rama Hansraj, Save the Children’s Country Director in Yemen, said:

“The country has experienced several fuel crises since the beginning of the conflict, but this is by far the worst one. We’re hearing reports from doctors who are already seeing its deadly impact on health facilities. A doctor in Sana’a told our team that six of their 12 operating rooms, and nearly half of their incubators, have already been forced to shut down.
 
“The longer this fuel crisis goes on, the harder it will be to reach vulnerable children in need. More than eight million children are on the brink of famine and in desperate need of access to life-saving healthcare. Even before this fuel crisis, Yemen’s healthcare system was on the verge of collapse. We fear that without urgent action, the situation in Yemen will become catastrophic.
 
“Children in Yemen have already dealt with enough. Crisis after crisis is wiping every chance they have to dream for a better future. Protecting the lives of children must be our utmost priority, and any decision made must first take into account the impact on children’s welfare.”
 
Save the Children is calling on parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law in their conduct of hostilities. Civilians must be able to afford access to basic supplies necessary for their survival and the implementation of UN resolutions must not be used to cause harm to civilians.

Save the Children has been working in Yemen since 1963, implementing programs in education, child protection, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, and emergency response across most of the country. Save the Children is supporting 186 health facilities, including 10 hospitals and two COVID-19 treatments centres with solar panel systems.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: Holly Robertson on 0414 546 656 or media.team@savethechildren.org.au
 
Notes to editors:

  • The United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen (UNVIM) was instituted by the United Nations at the request of the Government of Yemen to ensure compliance with Security Council Resolution 2216 (2015) for vessels sailing to ports of Yemen not under its control. UNVIM is managed and operated by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and is located in Djibouti, Republic of Djibouti.
  • All numbers on the amounts of discharged fuel in the Red Sea ports and the waiting time for the fuel vessels in the Coalition Holding Area are from a Save the Children analysis of the UNVIM public data: https://www.vimye.org/opsnap
  • After vessels are cleared by UNVIM, they are held in a demarcated Coalition Holding Area in the Red Sea off Al Hodeidah port. Vessels stay in the holding area until the authorities of the Internationally Recognised Government (IRG), and Saudi-led coalition, permit them to come to port and unload.

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