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Yemen's Coronavirus Crisis
Yemen’s civil war and the resulting violence considered currently the ‘worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” a crisis that is heavily rooted in the regional divide coupled with resource insecurity. The coronavirus pandemic which broke out at the beginning of 2020 and spread globally has only increased the strain on war-torn countries. Yemen’s coronavirus crisis strained the country’s already heavily underfunded healthcare system and its ability to reach the most vulnerable.

The Conflict in Yemen thus far:

To understand just how urgent the need is to address the coronavirus crisis in Yemen, one must first understand the already raging crisis for Yemeni civilians caught in this conflict.

  • The Civil War:                                                                                                                                                                                                  The civil war in Yemen started in 2015 and has caused an already poor country to continue to deteriorate under the strain of war. The conflict’s main actors are the government on one side and the Houthi led rebels on the other. The civil war has in many ways acted as a front for the proxy war raging between the two hegemons of the region: Saudi Arabia (which backs the government forces) and Iran (which backs the Houthi forces). Most of the conflict occurs on the west side of the country, where many of the major ports are located. This has heavily affected the ability for humanitarian aid to get to vulnerable civilians. These resources vary from food, water, to medical supplies. In addition, the final destination of the aid that is being delivered to Yemen is being contested by major aid donors like the World Food Programme. The organization has accused the Houthi rebels who control the northern part of the country of stealing aid meant for civilians according to a June report by Al Jazeera.

Results of the conflict in Yemen:

Results of Coronavirus in Yemen:

Around 80% of the country is dependent on humanitarian assistance. The United Nations (UN) has projected that there could be more casualties as a result of COVID-19 than have “been caused from the last 5 years of conflict, which is estimated at 100,000.”

Due to COVID-19, the number of children left without access to educated has more than tripled, totaling 7.8 million children. Aden, a major city in Yemen is struggling with a rising casualty count with “roughly 950 deaths in the first half of May” reported by CNN. Yemen is currently fighting two other major contagious diseases, and the rise of COVID-19 as a third has affected Yemen’s ability to distribute funding and medical resources, as they are already scarce due to the conflict casualties and the other viruses. (CNN) Many cities have filled hospitals to their full capacity and cannot admit any more people despite the growing number of cases (CNN).  People are being turned away due to a lack of access to ventilators (with some cities having less than 20 total). (CNN)

Steps being taken to control Yemen’s coronavirus crisis:

The dead are not allowed to be visited and mourned by friends and family to prevent social gathers and spread of the virus.

UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is” increasing aid to Yemen” to address the COVID-19 crisis and its effects on civilians affected by the conflict (Al Jazeera). The situation in Yemen is bleak and represents the worst of what a global pandemic can do to a country whose systems and infrastructures are depleted from years of war. The best hope Yemen has for addressing their civilians in need is to use the aid they receive from the Un and similar actors and seek out the most vulnerable populations first and prioritize investing in more medical necessities like ventilators and other essential equipment.

Kiahna Stephens

Photo: Pixabay

,humanitarian crisesOur world today consists of 195 countries. The sheer volume of people on this planet and the scale of the problems they face can be overwhelming, especially when thinking of humanitarian aid. For this reason, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) began making a yearly emergency watchlist in 2019, highlighting which countries are facing humanitarian crises and require significant urgent aid.

The International Rescue Committee

The IRC has been around since the early 1900s and works globally to improve the lives of those impacted by global health issues, conflict, and natural disasters. They focus on empowering individuals to take back control of their lives. In their U.S. offices, the IRC provides aid to displaced individuals seeking asylum in the U.S.

Generating the List

The IRC analyzes a variety of factors to decide a nation’s human risk, natural risk, vulnerability, and ability to cope during a crisis. These factors are then used to decide which countries are most in danger of humanitarian crises and require the most aid.

10 Countries Facing Humanitarian Crises in 2020

  1. Yemen: Roughly 80% of Yemenis need humanitarian assistance this year, including more than 12 million children. Yemen has been in a civil war for 5 years that has destroyed infrastructure, sanitation systems, medical centers, food distribution capabilities, and has killed roughly 250,000 citizens. Global organizations such as UNICEF agree that the crisis in Yemen is the “largest humanitarian crisis in the world.”
  2. Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): More than 15.9 million people in the DRC need humanitarian assistance this year. The Eastern DRC has been plagued with conflict and instability for nearly 30 years. This persistent instability has made it difficult for the country to develop infrastructure and food security. The current humanitarian risks in the DRC revolve around food security, Ebola, and Measles. To date, more than 2,000 people have died from Ebola in the DRC, making this the second-largest outbreak in the world.
  3. Syria: 11 million Syrians need humanitarian assistance this year. Since conflict broke out in 2011, more than half of the Syrian population has been displaced. Civilians have been caught in the crossfire of the war between President Assad and opposition groups. These years of conflict have caused extreme damage to Syrian infrastructure, including medical and educational resources.
  4. Nigeria: Close to 8 million Nigerians in the conflict-ridden states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe currently need humanitarian assistance, especially regarding sexual violence. Since 2009, roughly 13,000 civilians have died, and thousands of women and children have been assaulted. This year, 826 allegations of sexual abuse were presented in a report to the UN, but many believe that the number of cases is much higher. The northeast of Nigeria is seeing large levels of food insecurity, displacement, violence, and an outbreak of cholera.
  5. Venezuela: 7 million Venezuelans need humanitarian assistance this year. Due to political conflict, Venezuela is facing an economic crisis that has left 94% of households in poverty. Severe inflation has made the cost of basic goods so high that most Venezuelans cannot afford them. Because of this, an estimated 5,000 Venezuelans flee the country every day.
  6. Afghanistan: More than 9.4 million Afghans need humanitarian assistance this year. Since the 2001 NATO invasion that ousted the Taliban, Afghanistan has been experiencing political instability and conflict. The Taliban now controls more of the country than ever before, and after a failed peace deal in 2019, the country faces another contested election. An additional side effect of the conflict in Afghanistan has been a surge in mental illness. Although Afghanistan does not provide mental health reports, the World Health Administration estimates that more than a million Afghans suffer from depression and more than 1.2 million suffer from anxiety.
  7. South Sudan: More than 7.5 million people in South Sudan need humanitarian assistance this year. Since the civil conflict began in 2013, nearly 400,000 people have died, and millions have been displaced. South Sudan is also facing a massive food insecurity crisis that has been exacerbated by the conflict.
  8. Burkina Faso: In Burkina Faso, roughly 2.2 million people need humanitarian assistance, but the situation is drastically worsening. Armed groups are carrying out attacks throughout the nation. This caused the displacement of more than 500,000 people by the end of 2019. According to the UN 2019 report, the number of internally displaced people (IDFs) increased by 712% from January to December.
  9. Somalia: Roughly 5.2 million Somalis are currently in need of humanitarian assistance. Since the fall of President Muhammed Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has been facing persistent instability and conflict. This conflict has led more than 740,000 people to flee the country. In addition, Somalia is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters due to its underdevelopment.
  10. Central African Republic (CAR): More than 2.6 million Central Africans need humanitarian assistance this year. In 2013, an armed alliance called the Seleka overran the capital of the CAR. Political instability has been rampant ever since. More than a quarter of all Central Africans were displaced, causing food insecurity and underdevelopment.

Although the countries on this watchlist represent 6% of the world’s population, they comprise 55% of those identified to be in need by the 2020 Global Humanitarian Overview. The IRC’s watchlist is an extremely helpful resource that should be utilized for the assessment of which countries are facing humanitarian crises and require foreign aid.

Danielle Forrey
Photo: Pixabay

TikTok ActivismYemen’s humanitarian crisis is routinely categorized as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Over the last five years, from when the Yemeni Civil War launched the emergency, children have been hit the hardest. Tens of thousands of children have died, not only from the conflict but also due to preventable diseases and malnutrition. UNICEF estimates that about 80% of Yemen’s population is in desperate need of humanitarian aid. Because children are among the most affected by the crisis, four out of every five children (about 12.3 million) require help. TikTok activism, spearheaded by millennials and Gen Z, has been instrumental in bringing awareness to this pressing issue.

Though this crisis certainly isn’t new, its importance has become increasingly relevant on social media, and perhaps just in time. With the outbreak of the coronavirus, Yemen is facing a twofold crisis. There is a short supply of clean water, sanitation, and necessary protective equipment. Not only are many healthcare facilities closed or out of operation, but many health workers aren’t being paid. If there was a greater time to bring to light the severity of what’s going on in Yemen, it appears to be now.

Social Media Activism

With 90 percent of people aged 18-29 using at least one social media site, Millennials and Gen Z rule the internet. Different social media apps have evolved to have a specific brand of content. For example, Instagram is a place for aesthetically and visually pleasing pictures. TikTok became famous for dance trends and short, funny videos. Twitter is known for its 480 character-long quippy remarks.

In recent months, young adults and teens have used apps like Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram for more than status updates. Instead, they’ve cleverly utilized the apps’ algorithms to spread the word of issues that are important to them, one of which is the crisis in Yemen. According to research done by Pew Research Center, 44 percent of people aged 18-29 “encouraged others to take action on issues that are important to them.” This is exemplified in the way these young adults are advocating and rallying to end the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

Activism on TikTok

User @_mennabarakaa is an example of TikTok activism. She posted a video to her TikTok account performing dance moves that have become nearly synonymous with the app. In front of the dance moves, she posted facts about the crisis in Yemen and encouraged followers to donate. The video was viewed over 141,000 times and has received around 25,000 likes.

This is not the first TikTok on the subject that has gone viral. Another, posted by Jinan, known as @jinanchwdhury on TikTok, started off a “hair reveal,” teasing users by pretending to take off her hijab. Instead, she cut to photos and facts about Yemen. Both videos were 60 seconds or less.

@jinanchwdhury

#fyp #hijabi #foryou #foryoupage #DazItUp #prideicon #activist #blm #blacklivesmatter #savetheuighurs #uighurmuslims #yemen #saveyemen #yemencrisis

♬ never be the same slowed – newslowedsongz

Jinan, who currently has 53.3K followers on TikTok, started using her account for activism because she felt stuck offline.

“I initially posted content on the Yemen crisis because I wished to help however I could,” she wrote via Instagram direct messages. Since she was a teenager, she felt there wasn’t much she could do. “I tried to sign as many petitions as I could, and I thought that using my voice and raising awareness is a crucial way for me to do my part.”

TikTok has been essential in how she’s advocated for other teenagers to do what they can to help the Yemen crisis. She reposts content she finds helpful on Twitter and Instagram, and her TikTok is where she puts content into her own words.

TikTok’s algorithm

TikTok’s algorithm, which is based partly on how an individual user interacts with content, also pushes videos with certain hashtags. This is good news for TikTok activism creators like Jinan. If their videos end up on a user’s page because the poster utilized popular hashtags (like Jinan did in her hijab video), the user may interact with that video. As a result, they’re more likely to see similar TikToks. This algorithm is something that Jinan has used to her advantage.

She believes the app’s algorithm makes it easier for her content to get seen. “The reason why I started activism on TikTok was to maximize the amount of people I could reach and raise awareness to.” And it works — her videos consistently rake in thousands of view. Jinan’s video on the Yemen crisis received over 440 thousand views.

“I’m so grateful that [the Yemen video] reached hundreds of thousands of people,” Jinan wrote. “I feel as though I did as much as I could by raising awareness to so many people.”

Activism on Instagram

This new wave of social media activism isn’t limited to TikTok. Journalist Mary Retta claims “the Instagram Article” has used aesthetics to their advantage and spread activist content to users who otherwise wouldn’t engage in it. Accounts like @soyouwanttotalkabout and @impact package information through short, 7-to-10-page slideshows that feature fun colors and fonts. This beautification of the news, while different from a typical article, is effective in its goal. The accounts have 1.2 million and 455 thousand followers, respectively, and are just two of many similar pages. Instagram is also a completely free app. Information on global health crises is not locked behind a paywall like it is for other mainstream news services.

This social media revolution of sorts is a huge development in the involvement of young adults and teenagers for issues such as global poverty. By crafting content catered to be successful on specific apps, more and more young adults are not only raising awareness for these issues but also encouraging others to do what they can.

Sophie Grieser
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 in Yemen
“Over the past five years, I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought that surely things can’t get more desperate in Hodeidah, [Yemen,]” writes Salem Jaffer Baobaid for The New Humanitarian. Fortunately, fighting and airstrikes have ceased in the city, but the Yemeni Civil War still rages on in other parts of the nation. Now, however, COVID-19 promises to further complicate the situation in Yemen. According to UNICEF, approximately 80% of the Yemeni people require humanitarian aid, which is around 24 million people nationwide. Amid the terror and destruction, hospitals are shutting down, leaving people more vulnerable than ever to the biological dangers of COVID-19 in Yemen. To understand the state of addressing the pandemic in Yemen, one must be aware of the conflict unfolding, how COVID-19 affects the conflict and what assistance is being provided to the Yemeni people.

Where Did This Violence Come From?

After the Arab Spring demonstrations in 2011, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh is replaced through a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) deal placing Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, his deputy, into power. Houthis, the other major group in the conflict, are pushing against Hadi’s power and Saudi influence in the region. In 2014, the Houthis took control over the capital, Sanaa, Yemen, which led to more violence and airstrikes led by Saudi Arabian forces. However, the Houthis are known to be supported by Iran informally, though there are rumors of financial and military support as well.

COVID-19 in Yemen Amid Conflict

Amid airstrikes, city-wide takeovers and alleged coups, the Yemeni people have been largely forgotten. Hospitals all over the nation have shut down due to physical damage and shortages of fuel and medical resources. Only 51% of hospitals and clinics were functioning as of 2015. Meanwhile, over 300 districts in Yemen do not have a single doctor operating within their borders. Due to hospital shutdowns, there are 675 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and only 309 ventilators available. These numbers demonstrate the very real threat posed by COVID-19. Lack of reliable reporting and economic struggles have only deepened the struggle to contain COVID-19 in Yemen.

On April 2, 2020, a Houthi news organization reported the first case of COVID-19 in Yemen, but this was retracted only for another news release to be published around a week later. As of June 2020, the nation reports 1,100 cases and over 300 deaths, placing the startling mortality rate near 25%.

COVID-19 is also creating economic troubles for Yemen’s citizens. Many people in Yemen are reliant on remittances, or money being sent to them from a relative outside of the country. However, COVID-19 has led to economic recessions and copious layoffs all over the world. As a result, people who have lost jobs are unable to send money back to Yemen.

As the nation struggled to grapple with the loss of remittances and a surge in COVID-19 cases, Yemen also lost international aid that it relied on. The United States alone cut $73 million of aid to Yemen in April 2020 as a response to its own COVID-19 crisis, according to Oxfam.

Assisting the Yemeni People

Amid such chaos, nonprofit groups are moving in to fight for the underdog. Oxfam stands out as one of the most effective groups. Oxfam is currently working to help families in small refugee settlements throughout the nation. There Oxfam digs wells to increase accessibility to clean water in addition to passing out “hygiene kits” that include mosquito nets, wash bins, water jugs and more.

Oxfam is also heavily involved in educating people on how to avoid contracting diseases such as COVID-19 in Yemen. Meanwhile, there are groups working in the United States government to stop its halt on funding for the crisis in Yemen.

– Allison Moss
Photo: Flickr

Pregnant Women and Children
The Yemeni Civil War began in 2015 and has become a humanitarian crisis, devastating families and communities. The conflict between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels continues with no end in sight. More than 80 percent of the population, about 24 million people, lack food, health care and safe living conditions. Those who need assistance most are pregnant women, newborns and children.

Childcare and the Civil War

The civil war in Yemen prevents the most defenseless people in Yemeni society — pregnant women, newborns and children — from receiving life-saving medical treatment on time. At MSF’s Taiz Houban Mother and Child Hospital, the number of children and newborns dead on arrival at the location has doubled from 52 in 2016 to 103 in 2018. The most prevalent causes of death in newborns were prematurity, deprivation of oxygen known as birth asphyxia and severe infection.

Families struggle to find access to limited medical facilities and must navigate frontlines and checkpoints to receive care. Additionally, the Yemenis’ ability to access healthcare of any kind has dramatically diminished. Due to the declining economy that has devalued people’s savings, the vast majority depend on insufficient public healthcare.

Despite the conditions pregnant women and children during the Yemen Crisis are facing, several organizations aim to help these disadvantaged Yemenis receive the care they need.

Stay Safe Mama Project

The United Nations Population Fund, with help from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, has launched the Stay Safe Mama project so that pregnant women in Yemen can safely deliver their babies. As a result, 300 health facilities have been enhanced with reproductive health kits, medicine and supplies for maternity units. The project also supports midwives in local communities so that pregnant women and children during the Yemen Crisis who don’t have access to a hospital can still obtain the care they deserve. Aisha, a 27-year-old, who fled the violence from her village in Hodeida and now lives in a small shack with multiple relatives and children, received healthcare through a center organized under the ‘Stay Safe Mama’ project.

“The care I received at the center was beyond what I expected,” Aisha told representatives from UNFPA. Aisha also said that she “had regular check-ups, and when it was time to give birth, [she] was not worried anymore. [She] gave birth to a healthy baby girl.”

Responsive Governance Project

The Responsive Governance Project (RGP), with the assistance of the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID), provides instruction to improve the skills and knowledge of midwives. Additionally, RGP’s main priority is to provide pregnant women and children during the Yemen Crisis access to emergency obstetrical and natal care. Dr. Jamila Alraabi, the Deputy Health and Population Minister, states that the RGP has supported her agency and local health councils to improve maternal health policies.

In speaking with Jeff Baron from Counterpart International, Dr. Alraabi said that “no one can work alone, and no one can achieve success alone. It should be a partnership, and this is our hope in Yemen, that we will not have a woman die from preventable causes.”

UNICEF and Yemen

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provides Yemenis access to health treatment and access to safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene. As of August 2019, UNICEF maintained over 3,700 health centers and aided around 730,000 pregnant and lactating women by providing basic health care services. Additionally, 11.8 million children were vaccinated for measles and rubella, and 200,000 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition. Going forward, UNICEF’s efforts will focus on “strengthening systems, improving access to primary health care, as well as malnutrition management and disease outbreak response, including maintaining vaccination coverage.”

These three organizations are just examples of the efforts raising awareness and providing aid toward the Yemen Crisis. Children continue to be killed and injured during the conflict. Before COVID-19, 2 million children under the age of five were dying from acute malnutrition and in need of treatment. In addition to this, around 70 percent of the arriving pregnant women experience “obstructed labor, prolonged labor, eclampsia, uterine rupture or post-partum bleeding” and other life-threatening conditions. While the conflict continues, these organizations are making efforts that have helped many women and children in Yemen. 

– Mia Mendez
Photo: Flickr

Yemen Desert Locust Response ProjectSwarms of locusts travel in groups of at least 80 million; a swarm can routinely eat what 35,000 humans can eat in the same time span. This article will highlight the destructive potential of locust swarms and the Yemen Desert Locust Response Project. The desert landscape of Yemen makes it the perfect breeding ground for locusts. Death could be the result of human beings in major cases of locust devastation (35-60% of crops) due to a lack of available crops.

Purpose of the Yemen Desert Locust Response Project

The purpose behind the creation of the Yemen Desert Locust Response Project was to kill desert locusts so they could not continue to swarm. This project sought to provide financing for activities that promoted food growth and healthy behaviors of citizens. Secondly, this project looked to collect data and archive information for future generations regarding strategies the government used to stop locust outbreaks.

Yemen Desert Locust Response Project led by Sandra Broka and Yashodhan Ghorpade was approved by the World Bank in June of 2020. The project specified remediation efforts of $25 million to take place throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The Republic of Yemen will benefit from this declaration, which is set to end December 29, 2023.

About the World Bank

The vision of the World Bank is to empower third world countries to reach the financial security and maturity of developed nations. Being able to transform dwindling institutions of academia, medicine, business and government is the end goal of the World Bank. Loans have terms that specify repayment barriers and deadlines; grants are met through the embodiment of criteria on a checklist, and countries will not need to pay these amounts back. During an attack of locusts, the World Bank quickly worked to funnel out available funds to citizens and organizations for agricultural revival.

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) makes up the World Bank with other agencies like The International Development Association (IDA), corporations and centers. The two main players, IBRD and IDA, have donor countries. The IBRD has 189 donor countries and invests in the market to achieve financial capital benchmarks. The IBRD also has established credit that allows a profit margin between the loans it gives and the amounts it requires for repayment from clients.

International Development Association Financial Procurement

The IDA is overseen by 173 countries that make up the governing body. The governing body has agreed upon a set amount of money that it will donate to the IDA; this amount regenerates every three years. When this cash is dispersed, recipient countries improve the mitigation of environmental catastrophes. They are then able to locate economic interventions that reap the benefits of an enhanced quality of life.

Quick Locust Breeding; Quick Response

For countries to benefit from an increased quality of life, they must adhere to the warnings of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FOA) regarding the growth of locust populations. It is believed that in July, as swarms reach their adulthood, crops will also reach the peak of their growth; this also means they reach their highest risk of being eliminated by locusts. Farmers may be able to save July 2020 harvests. Ultimately, Failure to react will cause further distress to Yemen natives.

Preemptive warnings from the FOA are related to the travel destinations that locust swarms will navigate through during the month of July 2020. The FOA predicted African invasions of locusts in northern Somalia and northeast Ethiopia. With Yemen Desert Locust Response Project funds working in unison with FOA advisories, Yemen can better mitigate locust challenges than if it were acting as a stand-alone country not utilizing outside resources.

DeAndre’ Robinson
Photo: Flickr

Women's empowerment in YemenYemen, a country in the Middle East, has been the center point of many headlines recently due to the ongoing civil war in the country. The war broke out in 2014 and Yemen has remained in conflict ever since.

The country has a population of 27.5 million people, most of whom have been affected by the war, particularly Yemeni women. Many women in Yemen have expressed concerns about the war affecting their security, as well as the safety of their children. Despite these concerns, however, many women view the war as a contributor to women’s empowerment in Yemen because it has provided them with opportunities to assist in peace-building.

Since the outbreak of the war, women in Yemen have contributed in a plethora of ways, including providing aid to those who are wounded, aiding in the protection of children and providing psychosocial support to others. Some women have contributed in other ways, such as smuggling arms. Whichever end of the spectrum these women fall on, many of them regard their actions as an attempt to promote peace within the country.

Aside from providing aid and support to others during the war, Yemeni women are empowered through maintaining their own businesses and developing better leadership skills, which are two of the goals of Partners for Democratic Change. Though the country’s embassy emphasizes the importance of equality among the genders, there are still cultural attitudes and patriarchal structures that cause barriers for women in Yemen. Partners for Democratic Change has worked to tackle these barriers by changing people’s attitudes and by educating women. The organization has advanced women’s empowerment in Yemen by training 75 women in business and leadership so far.

Aside from Partners in Change, there are many other groups that have been established with the purpose of advancing women’s rights, such as the Supreme Council for Women and the National Commission for Women. Furthermore, the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), which took place from March of 2013 to January of 2014, occurred so as to begin a discussion about women in elected positions in Yemen.

The percent of women that made up the membership at this conference was 27 percent. During the NDC, those in attendance agreed upon the idea that, from then on, the number of women in elected council should be no less than 30 percent.

Though there is still progress to be made in regards to women’s empowerment in Yemen, the country has taken steps in the right direction through the various organizations and councils that it has established for advancing women in society. In addition, though the ongoing conflict in Yemen has been a source of turmoil for the country’s women, it has also caused them to feel empowered by providing them with opportunities to help others and contribute to rebuilding efforts.

– Haley Rogers

Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking Crisis in Yemen
Amid the continued civil unrest and armed conflicts, the Republic of Yemen’s human trafficking crisis is continuously getting worse. The weakening of Yemeni government control over a significant portion of territory, following the 2011 uprising, has allowed human trafficking to thrive. Now, NGOs are reporting that vulnerable populations are at an increased risk of falling victim to the human trafficking network.

Yemen’s human trafficking crisis has not been properly addressed since 2006. According to the U.S. State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report, released in 2014, Yemen was demoted from a Tier 2 to a Tier 3 rating. Tier 2 recognizes that a nation does not comply with the Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act’s (TVPA) standards but is making efforts to achieve compliance.

Yemen’s current Tier 3 rating (since 2011) means that Yemen is not complying with the TVPA and that it has ceased making significant efforts to improve. That same year, the United Nations Refugee Agency reported over 103,000 new arrivals in Yemen, having been smuggled or trafficked to the country.

As of 2017, Yemen’s human trafficking crisis has not changed for the better. Due to the tenuous political circumstances, the government faces serious obstacles in combatting trafficking. Yemen is dealing with substantial internal security threats, weak institutions, widespread corruption, economic dilapidation, limited territorial control and poor law enforcement capacities.

However, the greatest threat is the inherently increased risk for human trafficking due to the nation’s failure to implement and enforce any anti-trafficking laws. The lack of government control has also resulted in little oversight or activity in the courts. Without the government to prosecute, convictions and punishments are not being sought.

Allegedly, some officials willfully ignore the trafficking crimes in their regions. The most vulnerable to Yemen’s human trafficking crisis are migrant workers who attempt to flee poverty by finding work in the Gulf states and are unaware of the situation. As they travel to their destination, they are caught in large crowds, pushed overboard, and taken hostage by the smugglers.

Locals are also at risk. A common practice known as “sex tourism” (described as brief marriages between visitors and young Yemeni girls) has largely resulted due to raising poverty levels in rural areas.

The criminal networks do not stop at Yemen’s borders, but rather extend to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Saudi Arabia. As the smugglers continue to move victims internationally and Yemen further develops into a place of origin and transit, the chances that victims are recovered and returned to their families decreases.

By combatting poverty in Yemen, many of the workers who desperately search for opportunities and fall prey on fraudulent job offers would decline. However, until people can provide food and basic necessities for themselves, they may have no choice but to accept any work they can. Unfortunately, smugglers will exploit this. Thus, by combatting poverty, Yemen’s human trafficking crisis can be addressed, too.

Taylor Elkins

Photo: Flickr

Yemeni Refugees in OmanOman is a coastal nation that sits on the Arabian Peninsula, south of Saudi Arabia and east of Yemen. In light of the Syrian civil war and refugee crisis, as well as the ongoing conflict in Yemen, Oman hasn’t been as prominent in the news. However, Yemeni Refugees in Oman are faced with a stark reality.

Oman has taken in many refugees from its neighbor Yemen, which is currently experiencing a civil war sparked by a rough transition of power from longtime authoritarian leader Ali Abdullah Saleh to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, in 2011.

The Houthi rebels, representing Yemen’s Shi’a minority, took advantage of the chaos and seized large swathes of territory, including the capital of Sana’a, while Hadi fled to the coastal city of Aden. Al Qaeda, which has long had a foothold in the region, has also been involved in the conflict. As of May 2017, the U.N. estimated about 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen, mainly civilians.

In response to the increasing instability in Yemen, an eight-nation coalition of Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, launched Operation Storm of Resolve against the Houthis. Oman, while a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council alongside the Saudis, is one of the few nations in the region in the region and the only one in the council not to intervene militarily. Instead, it has opted to support Yemen through humanitarian aid and taking in Yemeni refugees.

 

Difficult Conditions Facing Yemeni Refugees in Oman

 

Officially, the Omani government refuses to give the exact numbers of refugees it takes in, but its officials estimate about 2,500 Yemenis live in the country, many illegally. Many of the refugees have lost their families, or come to Oman in search of adequate medical care. According to the U.N., only 45 percent of Yemeni hospitals are fully equipped. By March 2017, about 1,200 Yemeni refugees in Oman have received medical treatment at Omani hospitals, according to Oman’s health ministry.

Oman forbids refugees from working in the country, but many do to send money back home to families who desperately need it, with Omani authorities often turning a blind eye. However, the strain the intake of Yemeni refugees puts on the country has not gone unnoticed. “It is definitely going to be a burden to Oman if the war situation escalates in Yemen,” political analyst Khalfan al Maqbali saisd.

Still, as of now, there are no plans for Yemeni refugees in Oman to be turned away or removed. For the near future, Yemeni refugees in Oman are here to stay.

Andrew Revord

Photo: Flickr

Yemen Poverty RateYemen is one of the poorest countries in the Arab Region and is home to ongoing civil conflict – which turned to Civil War in 2015. Of Yemen’s 26.8 million people, half of the population lives in areas directly affected by conflict. Basic services like healthcare and education are on the verge of collapse.

This unrest has taken a toll on the Yemen poverty rate. Before 2015, nearly half of Yemenis lived below the poverty line. As of 2017, the World Bank estimates that number has increased to 62 percent. Nearly 60 percent of Yemenis are food insecure. Since 2015, malnutrition has increased by 57 percent. About 14.4 million Yemenis do not have access to safe drinking water or sanitation.

As of early 2017, seven million people in Yemen were on the brink of famine. About 90 percent of Yemen’s food is imported, but it is difficult to get food into the country because there are few commercial importers willing to face the financial difficulties of doing so. The food crisis and increased Yemen poverty rate are partially driven by rising food prices and reduction in purchasing power.

Cholera is on the rise in Yemen. Cholera is a bacterial infection spread by water contaminated by feces – for most of the world, a disease that ended with modern sanitation. Today, it is still easily treatable with rehydration solutions and antibiotics. However, the government stopped paying civil servants in 2016, and sanitation strikes led to septic backups and garbage pileups that allowed the disease to spread in Yemen. The governmental healthcare system disbanded. Now, cholera has spread to 21 out of 22 of Yemen’s provinces. As of July 2017, the disease has infected at least 269,608 people and killed at least 1,614.

In January 2017, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced the death toll in the Yemen conflict had surpassed 10,000. The OCHA’s Jamie McGoldrick released another statement saying that up to 10 million people need “urgent assistance to protect their safety, dignity, and basic rights.”

With continuing violence and infrastructure breaking down, prospects for the Yemen poverty rate are grim. More than 70 humanitarian organizations have been working to help but are facing challenges due to lack of accessibility and poor infrastructure within the country. Lack of funds is also an issue; the U.N. appealed for $2.1 billion to assist people in Yemen, but only 7 percent of that appeal was met. For those who want to donate to humanitarian efforts, organizations like UNICEF, UNHCR, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam and Save the Children are also doing essential work for the people of Yemen.

Hannah Seitz

Photo: Flickr