By Soraya Dali-Balta, IFRC

After nearly 50 days of heavy clashes in several Yemeni cities, a humanitarian pause went into effect on 12 May, allowing local and international organisations to deliver urgent aid to families and individuals who were largely affected by the violence. The ceasefire was an opportunity for humanitarian workers to reach previously inaccessible areas in the country, and to provide vulnerable communities with basic necessities, such as food, water, medicines and psycho-social support.

The Yemen Red Crescent Society, who has been actively responding to the rising needs since the onset of the crisis, intensified its relief efforts during the pause and mobilised its staff and volunteers to deliver relief and aid services to Yemenis and foreigners across the country.

The Programme Coordinator at the Yemen National Society, Mr Mohammed Fakeeh, said of the intervention during the ceasefire: “We started by conducting an assessment of humanitarian needs in 16 areas in Yemen, in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and we also mapped out and launched a project to train 72 volunteers across the country. As well, we got involved in providing psycho-social support to children in orphanages who were negatively affected by the violence, in addition to taking several other urgent steps.”

Also during the ceasefire, the Yemeni National Society distributed 400 First Aid kits to the organisation’s branches in different governorates, which were provided by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and launched an assessment of its Emergency Response Teams, revealing some gaps in the available rescue equipment and in the technical resources. In the capital Sanaa, the Yemeni National Society managed to evacuate three families and to provide them with psycho-social support after they had been closely exposed to violent acts. The Yemen Red Crescent Society also provided hot meals to 2,500 families in the city of Aden and to 68 displaced families in the governorate of Al Mahweet, along with 20 packages of non-food items (NFIs).

Moreover, more than 1,500 internally displaced people were registered by the Taiz branch of the organisation, who also got involved in the distribution of basic NFIs. In the governorate of Amran, emergency aid items were distributed to 343 families in coordination with the UNHCR. Meanwhile, the Hajjah branch of the National Society, which was inaccessible before the ceasefire, carried out Dead Body Management missions for 11 bodies and offered First Aid services to 24 people who were wounded in the fighting. Psycho-social support was also among the top priorities of the Yemen Red Crescent Society and it was provided to 87 patients in the Syoun branch.

The ceasefire expired on 17 May and soon after, heavy fighting resumed in several regions in Yemen, with the capital Sanaa witnessing the most intense clashes. Despite its tremendous efforts, the Yemen Red Crescent Society still has to continue attending to the humanitarian emergency in the country, amid a lack of resource and the deteriorating security situation.

The Yemen Red Crescent Society needs to replenish its relief contingency stock for 2,500 families, provide psycho-social tools and hygiene kits to three orphanages, procure emergency equipment kits for seven branches of the organisation, acquire 4,500 First Aid kits for community trainers, in addition to procuring and equipping or repairing and maintaining several of the National Society’s ambulances. As for its capacity-building needs, these include providing psycho-social support programmes and Training of Trainers to Yemen Red Crescent Society volunteers, and providing First Aid training to them as well.

The IFRC been closely monitoring the situation in the conflict-stricken country, and has revised the Yemen Development Operational Plan (DOP) to adapt to the significant needs of the National Society. The IFRC has dedicated a specialised team to coordinate its support to the Yemen Red Crescent Society from its Zone office in Beirut with its partners in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, particularly the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Danish Red Cross, the Norwegian Red Cross, the Swedish Red Cross and the British Red Cross. An operations room has also been established in Yemen to ensure an effective collaboration between the different components of the Movement.