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Ceasefire announced from Thursday in Yemen too late for many

Ceasefire announced from Thursday in Yemen too late for many
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By Robert Hackwill
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Yemen on the brink even if Thursday ceasefire holds

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Since August the intensity of war in Yemen has ratcheted up, and with over 4000 civilian deaths already the situation is looking more precarious by the day.

As urban centres buckle under this onslaught life, already precarious in this unforgiving landscape, is something you cling to.

600 days of conflict in #Yemen: 7k ppl killed, 37k injured, 3.1M displaced, 14M food insecure of and 80% of the population need assistance. pic.twitter.com/2HgqONgHSm

— OCHA Yemen (@OCHAYemen) 16 November 2016

Gomaa lives in a very basic dwelling. She and her husband, Mohamed, called it home, but now she lives here alone.

“He was leaving with his car when they were targeted by a rocket, they were targeted and the taxi was hit. He was burned, trapped in the taxi. We didn’t know until that night, they told us he was completely charred,” she says.

Facilities to cope with the 37,000 wounded have been damaged or their vital infrastructures and supply chains wiped out.

No power and no school benches. Tutored in the dark and in a stairway to maximize safety. Welcome to school in #Yemen#Yemencrisispic.twitter.com/HvxkslZRbH

— ICRC Yemen (@ICRC_ye) 15 November 2016

One airstrike in particular has closed the only hospital for a city of 100,000 people, in Abs.

Planes of the Saudi-led coalition pursued a taxi believed to be carrying a wounded target to the hospital’s arrival area. It has been described as a war crime by some witnesses, and is being investigated.

“The coordinates of the hospital are with the coalition, every day, and up-to-date. And despite that, the hospital itself was hit, and 19 people were killed here in this place. And 24 injured. There are people who are still missing, we can’t identify the remains, because they were ripped to shreds,” says the hospital director, Doctors Without Borders’ Ibrahim Ali.

Any sort of ceasefire right now would be too late for many people in Yemen, even the able-bodied, where a rupture in food, medical, and utility supplies has reached critical mass. No power for most, and no water, either. Little to eat, and increasingly exposed to the elements or the risk of infection and disease. There is every likelihood that civilian fatalities will continue to outstrip those of combatants.

The government, backed by the Saudis bombing its Houthi rivals, is right now the only protagonist in the conflict saying no to a pause in the fighting. Even if it did say yes the country would require urgent intensive care.

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