Vaccines are transported by donkey
While the conflict lingers on in Yemen, Première Urgence Internationale continues to work with vulnerable people in Al Hudaydah and Raymah, two governorates situated on the west coast of the country, around a five-hour drive from the capital, Sana’a. The NGO is carrying out health and nutrition projects via mobile clinics and is also implementing food distribution campaigns. In this country so badly hit by the conflict, humanitarian work is not always easy. Omar Abughoffa has been logistics coordinator for the Première Urgence Internationale Yemen mission for three months. He explains the many challenges facing the team.
” Needs are enormous in Yemen. In a report published in March, UNICEF highlighted the fact that 10 million children, in other words 80% of the country’s child population, urgently need humanitarian aid. In view of this critical situation, there is a very real need for aid.
Transporting humanitarian equipment is vital for bringing help to populations affected by the conflict, by forced displacements, by food insecurity as well as by malnutrition. Damage inflicted by air strikes to crucial transport infrastructures such as bridges, airports and seaports seriously hinder the capacity to respond to these needs. Humanitarian aid workers on the ground must cope with these challenges every day. The role of logistics coordinator, and the team, is therefore vital to enable teams on the ground to carry out their work in good conditions. In an environment like Yemen, the logistics team’s role is to ensure the supply of equipment, medicines and food, which will be distributed on the ground.
With the local Yemeni market profoundly affected by the conflict, some procurement needs to be done on an international level. This applies to some medications and nutritional products. They can be supplied by sea directly into the port of Al Hudaydah, the main entry point for humanitarian aid destined for the north of the country. In this environment, this task is not simple. The port of Al Hudaydah can be shut at any moment if there is a risk of air raids.
On top of this, we have to deal with some very strict rules to transport equipment within the country. On the whole, communication with the authorities is good but formalities can take some time.
For local supplies transported over land, we have to get permits to pass through many checkpoints. The application procedure for these permits can be very slow. Also every so often, despite having these permits, members of the team may be detained at checkpoints, sometimes for half a day.
We also have to deal with geographical obstacles. In Raymah, we have to cross mountains to reach the people. The paths are not suitable for vehicles. So we use animals which are comfortable with travelling on this type of terrain. For example, vaccines are transported in cool boxes by donkey.
The situation is very unstable and it makes a logistician’s job in this country really difficult, but when we see the impact of our work on the local population, we are all the more prepared to meet the challenges awaiting us “.