Below is a transcript of a speech delivered by Islamic Relief Worldwide CEO, Naser Haghamed at the 2019 High-Level Pledging Event in Geneva Switzerland today.
Ladies and gentlemen
For the last four years, the people of Yemen have been subjected to a brutal cycle of violence, starvation and death that has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
Vital services and the economy have collapsed. Accessing basic food staples like flour has become an unaffordable luxury.
Our staff have seen grown men carried into food distribution centres because they are too frail from thirst and hunger to stand. Every day we see hundreds of mothers bring their malnourished children into feeding centres, so weakened by hunger and preventable diseases like diarrhoea that they might not make it through the day.
The needs are so huge that our staff are often working 18 hours a day, seven days a week, so that at least some of these children will be given a chance to survive.
Currently, every month, Islamic Relief works with the World Food Programme to deliver food to 1.8 million people across Yemen, including some half a million in Hodeida alone.
We remain determined to do whatever we can to end this misery. In 2019 we will spend $7.6million of the money donated to us by families worldwide in Yemen.
But with almost two thirds of Yemen’s districts at risk of famine, and more than 15 million Yemenis – far more than the population of London or New York – at risk of starvation, it can feel like a losing battle.
To this end, the international community must expand support and funding for nutrition efforts. It must also use its influence on all parties to the conflict to guarantee that aid agencies have full, unfettered access to those in need because all the money in the world will not be enough as long as the security situation remains volatile.
Last month, one of our aid workers was killed by a stray bullet while trying to deliver aid. He just stopped at a garage to change a tire, but in Yemen even the simplest of tasks can prove deadly. And if our aid workers are risking their lives on a daily basis – how can we ever hope to reach every family in need?
This is why I call on all of you to do whatever you can to expand the fragile ceasefire, to ensure it is enforced and to come together to seek a lasting political solution that will give the people of Yemen hope and dignity again.