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Humanitarian Worker In Yemen Sees Catastrophe Ahead


Crucial aid shipments carrying much-needed medical supplies have finally reached Yemen. The country has fallen into chaos since Houthi fighters began their offensive in Yemen's capital earlier this year and a Saudi-led coalition last month retaliated with airstrikes. More than 600 people have been killed. Thousands more have been wounded. And there's a humanitarian crisis underway. The question now is whether the 16 tons of medical supplies will make it to the hospitals, where they're most needed. Nuha is a humanitarian coordinator for Oxfam in Yemen. To ensure Nuha's safety, we're not going to use her last name. She joins us from the capital, Sana'a. Thank you for talking to us.

NUHA: Thank you very much for having me.

KEITH: Can you describe the scene for us in Sana'a now?

NUHA: The situation in Sana'a at the moment is very insecure and unpredictable. It's very scary, obviously, because the airstrikes come at any time. And now with the fuel crisis that's going on, Yemen is a country that is basically based all its - basics let's say from importing - the food, the fuel, the wheat - everything comes importing and talking about the main things that would allow the people to be alive. And now at the borders - the blockade in the borders - this is creating a huge catastrophe that is ahead of us at the moment.

KEITH: Oxfam had been pushing to end the fighting, at least to get these shipments into the country. Are you worried about future shipments?

NUHA: Yeah. I am very happy that this took place and that it arrived safe. To be honest with you, I'm not sure how the movement of the aid is going to go to all the areas, especially with the fuel crisis that is taking place. I am worried that the fuel crisis is not only affecting the transportation whether for food or for the people, but also for extracting or bumping the water from the wells because the generators work with diesel. This is going to make the access to clean water even worse, and we could be seeing definitely a catastrophe.

KEITH: You're from Yemen. Your family is there. What is it like to watch your country go through this?

NUHA: I mean, yeah, unfortunately, our house is very close to a military base. From inside, you are very, very worried about the future - your little sister, your brother, about your mother being safe. Not being able also to sleep at night, it's a big issue. You lay your bed, like, your head on the pillow and above not being able to sleep because the airstrikes, you cannot sleep thinking what could happen next. You know, what's going to happen tomorrow? It's very emotionally, psychologically, physically tiring because I keep seeing the country that you aspire to be a better place now is rewinding and going back. You know, I'm not sure if you're asking me what I'm seeing in the future. I am usually this optimistic person who tells everyone that it's going to be OK. And I think Yemenis are good in having faith and believing that it's going to be OK. However, if these attacks do not stop, if this violence does not stop and a political solution comes back to the table, if the humanitarian law and the human rights are not being applied and if we're not allowed humanitarian aid - the food, the medicine, the fuel - to come to the country, it's going to be a catastrophe.

KEITH: Nuha, we are not using your last name to protect her, is humanitarian coordinator with Oxfam in Yemen. She joined us from Sana'a. Thank you and stay safe.

NUHA: Thank you very much. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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