Irish aid worker, Ciaran Cierans has been working with the International Committee if the Red Cross in Yemen since October 2016. A seasoned aid worker of 12 years, Limerick man, Ciaran says the situation in Yemen is one of the ‘most challenging’ he has ever experienced.
I am currently based in a city called Taiz, in southwestern Yemen. Taiz is under siege and the shelling is constant. Nothing can get in or out.
Yemen used to import 90% of supplies, but now less than half of this is able to enter the country.
The conflict has resulted in the closure of thousands of businesses across Yemen and people have lost their main source of income because of the conflict. Food prices have also significantly increased, partly due to difficulties getting supplies into the country. Food staples such as wheat have doubled in price if compared with pre-crisis levels. With no food entering the country, our food stocks are stretched to meet the daily increasing needs.
Looking for an alternative way to support people, we created partnerships with local bakers. Working with 45 bakeries to provide bread to 13,000 families. With an average of six members in each family, the bakeries are providing bread for 78,000 people every day. Each day, the families collect their 18 pieces of bread. The bread was meant to supplement other food items, but on a recent round of visits, we found that this bread was all that most people were eating. Some families were actually cutting up the bread and trying to make a soup out of it so it would spread further, others were picking leaves from trees to try and make it more nutritious. This is a country on the brink of famine.
Sadly, in a city under constant shelling, we have also had people killed on their way to collect the bread.
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