“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope … those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Robert F. Kennedy
Over the years, people have asked “Why Yemen? What is it about this country that warrants your attention?” The answer is simple, the people have been forgotten in an unquantifiable measure. A country that has been plagued with internal conflict since 2014 due to political struggle and a fight for natural resources, has largely been forgotten. Internationally, the war has escalated in silence, but within the country Yemeni’s have been suffering from what has now been declared as the worst humanitarian crisis in history. Over 14 million people are suffering from famine and there are more than 1.2 million suspected cases of cholera. Today in a world that is abundant with food, clean water and essential medicine, malnutrition and cholera should never be the cause of death in any nation. This is why it is imperative for the international community to contribute in the fight against the humanitarian crisis in Yemen – this is why Yemen matters.
James Asquith, the founder and CEO of Holiday Swap, who is a Guinness World Record Holder for being the youngest person to travel to every sovereign nation in the world, has fearlessly risked his safety to spread awareness in the media about the humanitarian crisis. From trekking through glaciers in the Arctic Circle where it was dark for 24 hours a day, to travelling to the world’s most vulnerable country to witness first-hand the crisis, James has been able to shed light on the dire need of humanitarian aid in Yemen.
Yemen is experiencing the world’s largest cholera epidemic in modern history, and overall the worst humanitarian crises. UNICEF UK has reported that:
- Almost 80 per cent of Yemen’s population (which is greater than 22 million people) are in dire need of humanitarian assistance;
- One third of the people in Yemen do not have access to piped water; and
- There are over 1.2 million suspected cases of cholera, with more than 2,500 associated deaths.
Yemen’s cholera epidemic and humanitarian crisis have been exacerbated by civil unrest, the government’s defunding of the public health department, and the lack of accessible essential supplies in various regions. This combined with the limited healthcare personnel and aid workers has amplified the need for humanitarian aid.
Despite the dangers, the multiple warnings from embassies, and even the concerns from people on the ground, James travelled to Yemen in order to capture the crisis in person so that more people can witness and understand the obstacles they face every day. James arrived in Yemen and was immediately impacted by the state of the country. He witnessed men walking around in bullet proof vests and guarding their lives and families with guns, but with no intention to fight. He observed people suffering from a lack of food, medicine, supplies and most importantly the world’s support. Unarmed and vulnerable children have grown up understanding famine, loss and suffering. Pharmacies have been closed, water is scarce, and supplies is stalled at the border for weeks at a time. Even when the international community proclaims there is a ceasefire, conflict still exists. The media has covered the pain and obstacles Yemeni’s have faced, but they have largely forgotten what is important. In a country that is plagued with conflict and fear, the people are what makes Yemen such an incredible place deserving the world’s attention and support.
As William Wilberforce once said, “”having heard all of this you may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you did not know”. On the ground, James has done something that organisations and the media have missed – he captured the humanity and hope that has survived albeit the devastating loss the country has suffered. Our objective is to create ripples of hope to combat the humanitarian crisis. We hope that when people ask “Why Yemen?” you can continue creating those ripples until communities come together to protect what matters – the people who have been forgotten.
Our team at Holiday Swap is committed to providing aid. Please consider donating to our fundraiser here. 100 per cent of the monies raised by will go directly to UNICEF UK in support of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
James’ captured content on the ground in Yemen can be seen below.