Yemen’s man-made catastrophe is forcing people to make stark live-or-die choices, warns new Oxfam report

Yemen’s man-made catastrophe is forcing people to make stark live-or-die choices, warns new Oxfam report

Yemenis, already at tipping point after more than two years of war, are now being forced to choose between treating cholera and putting food on the table, said Oxfam in a new report published today, entitled Yemen: Catastrophic Cholera Crisis.

Sixty percent of the population in Yemen is in need of food, including 6.8 million people who are facing starvation. People who are then hit by cholera can only afford the costs of transportation, medicine and doctors’ fees by further reducing the amount of food they buy. Oxfam spoke to many families who have to rely on selling their personal belongings and going into debt in order to buy food and pay for cholera treatment. Seeking medical treatment is often the last resort, and many only do so when it is already too late.

Shane Stevenson, Oxfam’s Country Director in Yemen, said: “Each day that passes brings more suffering to the unbearable lives of the Yemeni people. The world is shamefully failing them. A new disaster after another is leading thousands of people to face stark live-or-die choices every day. What more needs to happen in Yemen for the international community to properly respond?”

Colm Byrne, Oxfam Ireland’s Humanitarian Manager, said: “This is no accidental disaster, it is a man-made catastrophe driven by national and international politics. The ongoing conflict has ruined Yemen’s economy, destroying people’s ability to make a living and devastating the health sector, which now is unable to properly respond to the cholera outbreak. Hunger, resulting directly from the effects of war, has made malnourished men, women and children even more vulnerable to the deadly disease.”

The war in Yemen has resulted in over 5,000 civilians being killed,  nearly half a million children becoming malnourished and now the world’s worst outbreak of cholera recorded in a single year, with a staggering half a million suspected cases since April 2017. Amidst this outbreak, which has affected all but one governorate in Yemen, nearly 2,000 people have died.

Oxfam’s report published describes how one family had to spend 15,000 Yemeni riyals (€50/£46), just to travel to the nearest cholera treatment centre – a fortune for many struggling families and that’s before doctors’ fees and medication.

Since July 2015 Oxfam has reached more than 1.2 million people in eight governorates of Yemen with water and sanitation services, cash assistance and food vouchers, including 430,000 people as part of its cholera response.

Oxfam Ireland is appealing to the public to donate to its hunger crisis appeal and support people facing famine in Yemen, as well as in East Africa, South Sudan and Nigeria:



Oxfam spokespeople in Ireland and in-country are available. To arrange an interview or request more information contact:

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Alice Dawson on 00353 (0) 83 198 1869 /

NORTHERN IRELAND: Phillip Graham on 0044 (0) 7841 102535 /

Notes to Editors:

1.     Link to Oxfam’s report: Yemen: Catastrophic Cholera Crisis” 

2.     Photos and stories are available.

3.     The revised 2017 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan requires $2.3 billion to target 12 million people, but is only 39% funded as 15 August 2017. 

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