“Marib’s humanitarian crisis could result in a health crisis,” said MSF medical coordinator Dr. Muhammad Shoaib. “The consequences of people’s living conditions on their physical and psychological well-being are already alarming. There is a high risk of disease outbreaks including measles, cholera and COVID-19. Health and humanitarian organizations need to act proactively to prevent a catastrophic health situation. Organizations working in Marib must increase their activities with regards to food, water and sanitation, shelter and health care.”
Many of the people living in the camps lack basic necessities including shelter materials, blankets, clean water, and sanitation. Most of the temporary shelters have been constructed from bushes and branches plucked from the desert, or from plastic sheets or other fragile materials salvaged from garbage dumps. Access to safe drinking water is very limited, which is a major health risk.
Winter in the desert of Marib is merciless, with strong cold winds and temperatures falling below 50°F. Without mattresses or blankets, many people struggle to keep warm. Some have built walls of sandbags to try and prevent the cold wind from entering their homes.
The emotional weight of it all has dire mental health consequences as well. “We really feel afraid, day and night,” said Abdu, whose family is sheltering just a few miles from the frontline. “Usually, there is a break of an hour or so and then we start hearing fighting again. I am not worried for myself, but for the children in my family. If there is a situation when we feel the explosions are coming closer, we will just take some water and run. I don’t know where we’d go—we would just run away.”