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Water is a lifeline as Yemen’s war enters fifth year

The war in Yemen has now entered its fifth year. The UN has called the humanitarian crisis there ‘the worst in the world’. 

Despite a limited ceasefire agreed in December 2018, Yemeni civilians continue to be killed and injured. Real peace remains elusive.

The situation in Yemen is a heart-breaking example of an entirely human-made disaster. Conflict and the deliberate blocking of aid has brought the population to the brink of famine.

The figures are staggering:

  • At least 17,700 civilians have been killed since 2015 as verified by the UN,
  • 3.3 million people remain displaced from their homes,
  • An estimated 80% of the population, 24 million people, are in need of assistance,
  • Over 11 million children are in need of support,
  • Over 17 million people lack access to safe water and sanitation.

Yemen’s traditional economy has almost completely collapsed. Millions in Yemen can’t afford food, water, medicines and other basic essentials. They are now reliant on the support of international organisations like Trócaire. 

A desperate need for safe water

People are desperate for safe water in Yemen. As people access unsafe water sources and inadequate sanitation, the risk of diseases like diarrhoea increases. Across the world, diarrhoea kills more children in war zones than war itself, according to UNICEF.

In Yemen, poor sanitation and waterborne diseases, including cholera, left hundreds of thousands of people sick in 2018. Since the start of 2019, the rate is increasing, with over 120,000 suspected new cases of cholera being reported. 

Trócaire is supporting local partner Islamic Relief to provide water and sanitation to some of the worst affected communities. For many, this water can be life-saving.

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Bakeel’s story

Bakeel Al-Shuraihi is a father of eight children in Wadi Alasan village. His family had not been able to get clean water in their village as a result of the war.

“We used to walk for one and a half kilometres and stand in queues near to the only water well in the area” explains Bakeel.

After walking this long journey, Bakeel says that sometimes they would not get any water.  

Other times they might fill up two jerry cans, but half of that would be given to the donkey just to keep it alive for the return journey.

For many years the village had a working water pump, but the effect of the war meant that people were unable to buy the fuel for the pump. “Finally the pump was stopped last year,” Bakeel says. 

Islamic Relief intervened and equipped the main water well in the area with a solar energy system. This addresses the fuel shortage problem, providing a sustainable solution that is friendly to the earth.

They also built a fence around the well which makes it safer for the villagers to use.

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Bakeel Al-Shuraihi and his family can now access safe water just metres from their home. Photo : Islamic Relief.

Bakeel says that with the new well “we do not suffer to get clean water. We can get as high a quantity as we need and the water source is only a few meters from our houses.”

Many children had to stop their study during the last year to be able to go to fetch water. “After the water arrived to our villages, children resumed their study” Bakeel added.

Moreover, there was no water in the hospitals, schools and other public institutions in the area. Now water is available everywhere in the 12 surrounding villages.

The challenges are still great for Bakeel and his family, as the war continues. Yet at least his family and the 12 villages can now access plentiful safe drinking water.

“We thank Islamic Relief for its intervention to help us with clean water and reducing our suffering,” Bakeel added.

Your vital support 

This project is one of three water supply systems that Islamic Relief has installed in the last year with Trócaire support. Over 11,000 people have benefitted as a result of your generous support to our work.

This Lent, please consider donating to Trócaire so we can continue to support communities like this around the world.

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Trócaire partner Islamic relief installing water projects. Photo : Islamic Relief.

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Solar energy is being used to provide sustainable power to the water pumps. Photo : Islamic Relief.

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