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Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Yemen
As uprisings in Yemen continue to intensify, over 22 million people (75 percent of the population) are in need of humanitarian assistance, making Yemen’s population the highest number of people in need compared to the rest of the world.

In addition, Yemen’s economy has declined since the GDP per capita decreased 61 percent and 1.25 million civil servants are not receiving their salaries. In recent years, basic food prices have increased by 98 percent and unemployment rates are as high as 50 percent. Since 2017, the population living below the poverty line in Yemen has increased by 30 percent, putting it at 79 percent.

Ahmed Shwaa, a 59-year-old farmer displaced by the war, said: “We were living in a peaceful area and we were eating what we planted. We do not care about politics, we are not men of war, all that matters is to live in peace. But now, we cannot provide food for our family and we cannot live in peace.” For the citizens of Yemen, each day continues to be a struggle for survival.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Yemen

  1. Since the uprisings began, over two million Yemeni civilians are victims of displacement. Among those displaced, 76 percent are women and children. Displacement is considered one of the key contributors to the country’s increasing poverty rate. To date, at least one million people have returned to their home regions.
  2. Over 60 percent of Yemen’s population (18 million people) are food insecure and 8.4 million of these people are on the verge of famine. Additionally, 16 million Yemenis do not have access to safe water and basic hygiene, especially in rural areas. As a result, cases of malnutrition have increased, causing 50 percent of children to be stunted. In addition, acute malnutrition is among 2.9 million women and children.
  3. Both Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State in Yemen (IS-Y) have claimed responsibility for various bombings in Yemen. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the United States conducted 105 drone attacks that targeted AQAP and IS-Y that killed dozens in 2017. Moreover, the U.S. carried out two ground raids with the UAE, one of which killed 14 civilians and nine children.
  4. Armed conflict in Yemen has caused the country to be the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Despite efforts made by humanitarian organizations to provide aid, Saudi-led coalitions have imposed restrictions on imports that hinder such efforts. The coalition has delayed fuel tankers, closed vital ports and prevented goods from entering seaports. Houthi-Saleh groups have impounded food and medical supplies, denied populations access to aid and imposed restrictions on aid workers.
  5. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), 85 unlawful coalition airstrikes have killed almost 1,000 civilians and destroyed homes and cities. Some of these attacks are considered to be war crimes. In 2017, Saudi Arabia made a pledge to civilian casualties resulting from coalition attacks. However, the U.N. Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reports that coalition airstrikes are “the leading cause of civilian casualties.”
  6. As conflict progresses in Yemen, violence against women does as well. Violence against women has increased by 63 percent, according to UNFPA. Forced marriage rates, like child marriage, have also increased. At least 72 percent of girls are married before the age of 18. Additionally, Yemeni women endure great discrimination in law, practice and a lack of legal protection.
  7. The cholera outbreak in Yemen has become the largest growing cholera outbreak. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 822,000 cases and 2,160 cholera-related deaths have emerged since the outbreak began in April 2017. Experts say the outbreak is manmade as a result of violence and other factors instigated by the war.
  8. A Saudi-led bombing campaign destroyed Yemen’s health system. Less than 50 percent of healthcare facilities are functioning, while 16 million people do not have access to basic health care. Since 2016, the government has failed to pay health workers regular salaries. Ghassan Abou Chaar, the Doctors Without Borders head of mission in Yemen said, “Health facilities aren’t receiving critical operational costs, making it nearly impossible for them to properly function.”
  9. Doctors Without Borders (DWB) was able to open 16 cholera treatment centers within the first five months of the outbreak and has treated over 80,000 Yemeni citizens. DWB has implemented various interventions that locate rehydration points throughout the country, bring in medical professionals and distribute cholera kits to the community.
  10. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been working to keep their humanitarian aid running despite restrictions made by Houthi-Saleh groups. ICRC supports local hospitals by training staff in first aid and is utilizing engineers to repair water infrastructure for Yemen. ICRC and the Yemen Red Crescent signed a partnership framework agreement with the mission of improving the capability of the Yemen Red Crescent to meet humanitarian needs.

Despite the top 10 facts about living conditions in Yemen, various humanitarian aid organizations are determined to improve such conditions. Hope remains that these conditions will improve so that Yemenis no longer have to struggle for survival.

– Diane Adame
Photo: Flickr

Yemen child soldiers
As of March 2015, the United Nations has confirmed that at least 2,369 children have been recruited as Yemen child soldiers. Some of these children are engaged in active combat.

Child recruits in the Middle East and North Africa have doubled within a year as of 2017. According to southern Yemeni officials, there may be as many as 6,000 child soldiers throughout the country and 20,000 are in need of war rehabilitation. The situation in Yemen has been called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with 18.8 million people needing aid and seven million going hungry.

The United Nations has argued that children and young people are receiving the worst of the conflict’s repercussions. The organization claims Houthis were responsible for 359 of 517 cases of Yemen child soldiers in 2016; 76 were recruited by government-backed groups like the Popular Resistance and the coalition. Others were recruited by Al Qaeda and its associated groups.

The Yemen conflict was set in motion in 2014 when the northern Shiite Muslim rebels, or the Houthis, allied themselves with the military and took over the Yemeni capital of Sana and other cities due to discontent with the government and president. In retaliation for the Houthis’ strike against the government, Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations became involved in the conflict.

Since 2015, Saudi airstrikes have been led in an attempt to restore President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to power. The Houthis, backed by Iran, and the Saudis, backed by the U.S., U.K. and France, effectively tore the country apart with their fighting, splitting it between the north and the south.

In some ways, the destruction and conflict have forced families to view their children as valuable resources. The child soldiers’ pay of $55 every three months may be necessary to keep the family afloat, while female children are married off in exchange for a dowry. Furthermore, recruits are given a hot meal daily; 47 percent of Yemeni children suffer from stunting due to malnourishment.

The Houthis have promised monthly allowances of $80-120 to the families of child soldiers in the event that their children were to die. The group will print posters in memory of fallen Yemen child soldiers, as well.

Continuous violence and destroyed infrastructure puts civilians, and especially children, in a precarious situation.“With no end in sight to these conflicts and with families’ dwindling financial resources, many have no choice but to send their children to work or marry their daughters early,” UNICEF’s Regional Director Geert Cappelaere explained to The Guardian.

In 2014, the Yemeni government signed an action plan with the U.N. that contained a list of stipulations to ensure that there would be no more use of child soldiers. Unfortunately, progress on this front has been stalled due to the conflict and the issue of Yemen child soldiers has not yet been resolved.

Still, organizations like U.N. relief agencies continue to help where they can. “We remain committed to helping the people of Yemen. We have reached nearly six million people with clean water, distributed 3.7 million liters of fuel to public hospitals [and] treated more than 167,000 children for severe acute malnutrition,” U.N. leaders conveyed.

– Camille Wilson

Photo: Flickr

Facts about Yemeni refugees

Though it has not drawn as much international attention as the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, the ongoing civil war in Yemen has devastated an already struggling country.

One reason for the lack of attention is because the Yemen conflict has produced a smaller number of international refugees. Yet, almost 200,000 people have fled the country and more than 2 million have been internally displaced. Below are ten facts about Yemeni refugees and the volatile situation that has led to a protracted civil war.

  1. Most Yemeni refugees are foreigners themselves. Yemen has long been viewed as the entry point to the Middle East.  This is the case for many people coming from poorer countries in Africa since Yemen borders Saudi Arabia, a wealthier country home to huge numbers of guest workers.
  2. A large number of Yemeni refugees are internally displaced. As of December 2015, there were an estimated 2.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Yemen. This is almost 10 percent of the population.
  3. Even prior to the war, Yemen was the poorest country in the Middle East. This means that Yemeni refugees have scarcer resources to draw upon than refugees from other war-torn countries in the region.
  4. Many of the refugees from Yemen are now living in other poor countries. Of note, 33,000 Yemeni refugees now live in Djibouti and 32,000 in Somalia, two countries that are highly unstable and major producers of refugees themselves.
  5. Yemen’s geographic position makes it difficult for displaced persons to leave the country. Yemen is located at the corner of the Arabian Peninsula and its land borders include one of the most inhospitable desert terrains in the world. Several of the closest countries by sea are themselves highly unstable and violent.
  6. Historically, Yemen has been a generous acceptor of refugees. It is the only country in the Arabian Peninsula to be party to the 1951 U.N. Convention and the 1967 Protocol on Refugees. Yemen has welcomed refugees from countries in the Horn of Africa that suffer from persistent civil strife and repressive governments, like Somalia and Eritrea.
  7. Yemen’s civil war is locked in a stalemate. This means that the number of Yemeni refugees may increase  as the nation’s infrastructure continues to be destroyed by war.
  8. Yemen’s internal divisions have deep historical roots. During the colonial era, the north was controlled by the Ottoman Empire and the south by Great Britain. During the Cold War, North Yemen was capitalist while South Yemen was communist.
  9. Water scarcity has reached crisis levels in Yemen. This is one of the most important facts about Yemeni refugees and it also affects the entire population. According to The Guardian, 50 percent of Yemenis struggle to obtain clean water and the capital city of Sanaa may run out of water in the near future. As is the case for many conflicts around the world, water scarcity and control of water supplies are key issues.
  10. Yemen’s population has a high percentage of young people. Over 40 percent of the population is 14 years old or younger, and more than 20 percent falls in the 15 -24 age range.

Raising awareness of these facts about Yemeni refugees is important. Refugees all over the world flee from war and civil strife to seek refuge and find a better life, not just from Syria and Iraq. The facts here may not be an exhaustive list of the Yemeni refugee situation, but they provide insight into the issues this country faces on a daily basis.

Jonathan Hall-Eastman

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in YemenRanked 160th out of 188 countries on the UNDP Human Development index, Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Arab World. Ravaged by conflict for the past year and a half, poverty in Yemen has been increasing and will likely continue to do so as conflict is prolonged.

Since Houthi rebels seized the government in 2014, a Saudi-led coalition has been engaged in combat with them. Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula and ISIS have also increased activity opposed to both groups and further serve to increase unrest.

So far, the conflict has resulted in over 6,400 deaths, over 30,500 people injured and 2.8 million people internally displaced. In a country of 25.6 million people, 82 percent of the population is in need of emergency humanitarian assistance and 19.3 million Yemenis are without safe drinking water or sanitation. At the beginning of the conflict, 14.4 million Yemenis faced chronic food insecurity, but that figure has increased by 35 percent since the conflict began.

The conflict has also had a significant toll on economic activity. Oil and gas exports, Yemen’s main source of income, have ceased. Imports have also contracted, aside from critical food and energy imports. Inflation reached as high as 30 percent in 2015, and is expected to increase further as the fiscal performance continues to weaken.

To alleviate the crisis, more than 70 humanitarian organizations have been attempting to provide assistance to those experiencing these conditions. However, limited access and budgets have hampered its ability to reach a majority of the population.

The UNDP initiative, Yemen Our Home, is one of the actors attempting to provide relief to the Yemeni people. Yemen Our Home is attempting to garner support for and donors to restore and support community functions such as through a recent deal with Sabafon Telecommunication Company, which created a mobile clinic in the Sho’ub District of Yemen’s Capital City, Sana’a. Other projects that the initiative is attempting to fund and implement include solid waste management in cities, food production and energy.

Even before the most recent conflict, Yemen was one of poorest countries in the Middle East. 37.3 percent of the population live below the poverty line of $2 a day per person, the concentration of which live in rural areas. Statistics from 2012 indicate that almost 60 percent of children under the age of five have chronic malnutrition, 35 percent are underweight, and 13 percent have acute malnutrition, which are some of the highest rates in the world.

Poverty in Yemen persists in part due to of lack of access to basic resources such as land and water and to services such as health care and education. With a majority of the population living in rural areas, their state of isolation makes it even more difficult for people living in poverty to gain access to resources and services.

Such conditions compounded with poor infrastructure prevent humanitarian assistance from accessing those Yemenis in need. Even with a cease-fire signed in March, difficult-to-reach areas are limited in the amount of assistance they can receive.

As long as conflict continues, poverty in Yemen will only increase in magnitude. Restoring peace and order is critical for beginning reconstruction and addressing the issue of poverty.

Adam Gonzalez

Photo: flickr

Yemeni_CiviliansOngoing conflict in Yemen continues to take its toll on the civilian population. According to the United Nations Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), 21.2 million Yemeni civilians of the total 26 million in the population are in need of humanitarian assistance.

15 million people no longer have adequate healthcare as a result of the conflict in Yemen. Fuel and medical supply shortages have severely hindered functioning of hospitals and health facilities.

The deterioration of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services further aggravates the situation — approximately 20.4 million people lack adequate WASH services, says UNOCHA.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently working with other health partners to “ensure the continuity of health services” in Yemen.

Mobile clinics, for example, serve as “primary healthcare centers” in more remote areas of the country. WHO, partnered with Field Medical Foundation, have set up mobile clinics which specifically cater to the treatment of children between six months and five years of age in Aden, Lahj and Hadramout.

Approximately one million liters of fuel have been delivered to health facilities. The WHO and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have been working together to bring water to different regions of the country.

According to BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner, the conflict in Yemen began in the 2011 Arab Spring.

In an attempt to contain protests within Yemen’s borders, Yemen and its Gulf Arab neighbors made a deal that ultimately led to the replacement of President Ali Abdullah Saleh by Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

In retaliation, Saleh supported a rebellion by Houthi rebels in late 2014. By January 2015, President Hadi had lost power and immediately made for Saudi Arabia, where he currently lives in exile.

Yemen now finds itself torn between Houthi/pro-Saleh forces in the West and Hadi forces in the East. As the fighting continues, WHO and other organizations continue to make major efforts toward supporting Yemeni civilians caught up in the violence.

Jocelyn Lim

Sources: BBC, World Health Organization (WHO) 1, World Health Organization (WHO) 2, World Health Organization (WHO) 3, UNICEF, UNOCHA
Photo: Google Images

yemen
United Nations Humanitarian Chief Stephen O’Brien called a meeting of multiple U.N. agencies in July to discuss immediate action regarding deteriorating humanitarian conditions within the conflict-ravaged nation of Yemen, as fears of widespread famine within the country continue to grow.

Officials agreed to raise the caution of humanitarian emergency in Yemen to Level 3, the highest humanitarian crisis level within the United Nations, after the World Health Organization (WHO) provided updated statistics regarding the severity of conditions within the Arab world’s most impoverished country.

The WHO recently announced that an estimated 21.1 million Yemenis currently require significant humanitarian aid, with an additional 13 million people faced with a food security crisis and 9.4 million people exercising limited to no access to basic water resources.

Health officials have stressed the adverse effects these conditions will have on the national population, as inadequate access to these essential resources will increase the risk of water-borne disease such as cholera and the persistence of widespread malnourishment.

In addition to Yemen, the United Nations has placed the nations of Iraq, Syria and South Sudan at Level 3 of humanitarian emergency in recent months due to consistently escalating conflicts within these regions. The U.N. Humanitarian Office states that declaring a top-level humanitarian emergency allows for the mobilization of extended aid funding and an organization-wide deployment of staffing personnel.

A U.N. official familiar with agency operations within Yemen stated after this summer’s emergency meeting that an additional 11.7 million citizens will be targeted for humanitarian assistance provided by additional resources mobilized by the Level 3 declaration.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the U.N. envoy for Yemen, stated last week in a press release that Yemen is, “One step away from famine,” after noting that only two million Yemeni citizens were in need of humanitarian assistance two years ago.

Houthi Shiite rebels and military forces allied with former President Ali Abduallah seized Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, in September and have been conducting military operations against Sunni militants, local separatists and tribal militias allied with current President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. President Hadi was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia after the invasion of Sana’a by Houthi forces last year

A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the United States has been conducting airstrikes within Yemen against Houthi rebel forces since March. The conflict has resulted in 3,083 fatalities and 14,324 casualties since its onset last year, according to the most recent estimates of the WHO.

Ahmed also urged all contingents within the regional conflict that erupted earlier this year to participate in a humanitarian ceasefire during the month-long celebration of the Muslim holiday Ramadan in order to ease the delivery of humanitarian aid resources.

The U.N. envoy to Yemen outlined multiple solutions to the conflict, which included, “The need for a ceasefire, an orderly withdrawal of Houthi forces from cities, monitoring and verification mechanisms, an agreement to respect international humanitarian law and not to hinder the deployment of humanitarian aid operations; and a commitment to engage in talks mediated by the United Nations.”

James Thornton

Sources: Big Story, Middle East Monitor
Photo: The Telegraph

The Youth of Yemen Promoting Peace

Yemen has been through a whole lot in the past few years. While political unrest has plagued the nation for years, in the recent months, the country has been dealing with ongoing airstrikes.

“Some days it’s calm, and some days it’s not. It’s so unpredictable. Right now, we’re on day four with no electricity. When it does come on, it will only be one for an hour,” Hana reports. At 26-year-old, Hana is a youth assistant project manager for the Foundation for Peace project.

The project was founded in 2012 by the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE), with the goal of teaching members of the community to effectively prevent and resolve conflicts. They focus on women and youth that typically do not have the opportunity to be influential or participate in dialogue.

So far, 560 youth, women, and local community leaders have received training. In addition, CARE has provided 15 water tanks for poor neighborhoods.

Many people in the country do not have nearby access to water sources and have to walk for miles every day. The limited amount of water sometimes results in clashes within communities.

In the past, wealthy business owners and merchants have paid for trucks to bring water to the poor. However, the trucks wasted a lot of water since they did not offer an effective method of collection. To rectify this inefficiency, the water tanks that CARE installed are permanent. They allow for people to obtain water with ease and less conflict.

Airstrikes and a naval blockade, however, have been preventing essential supplies, such as fuel and food, from reaching Yemen. Because of the lack of fuel, prices have soared and the cost to ride the bus has doubled. Service has also become undependable and people have switched to riding bikes for transportation.

The closure of many Yemeni schools poses another issue. Yemen has a very large population of young people and the majority of them are unemployed and out of school. This leaves them susceptible to recruitment into dangerous militant groups.

Yet, Yemen’s youth are finding ways to stay out of trouble and bring about dramatic change. For example, they initiate groups that spread awareness about issues like women’s rights. Women are fighting for the right to ride bicycles, which is traditionally not allowed in Yemen.

They turn destroyed buildings and windows into art and paint messages of peace all over their cities. Young people are passionate about promoting peace and developing their nation.

The United Nations Development Program gives out a yearly National Award for the Best Innovative Small Business Plan to Yemeni youth. Young people are able to submit smart business ideas for a chance to make their ideas into an entrepreneurship opportunity.

The goal of the award is to kick start the motivation and genius of Yemen’s youth, as well as generate new opportunities for employment. With the award, young people start their own businesses to contribute to their community and the nation’s developing economy.

The youth’s ability to take their lives and future into their own hands also grants them a hearty amount of satisfaction and self-esteem. There are five winners chosen who each are given $20,000 and support from the UNDP while executing their idea.

At the moment, Yemen receives funding from organizations like CARE. But even without aid in the future, the youth hope to keep inspiring progress and peace.

Lillian Sickler

Sources: CARE, Yemen Innovation And Creativity Award, The Globalist
Photo: Care