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 Oman
Oman 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

In 2015, Shi’a rebels known as Houthis allied with forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to rebel against elected President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, leaving the country in a state of chaos. The international community scrambled to determine how to help people in Yemen. The answer comes from ending the violence, increasing medical aid, and investing in infrastructure.

The civil war has already claimed the lives of nearly 10,000 civilians and seriously damaged infrastructure in Yemen. Banks in Aden temporarily shut down following a series of robberies, and Saudi-backed airstrikes have destroyed health care and water treatment facilities throughout the country.

Yemen imports 90 percent of its food, and battles over key shipping ports in Aden and Al Hudaydah make food security a serious concerns for citizens. This has grave implications for the nearly two million acutely malnourished Yemeni children and their families. Malnourishment leaves the Yemeni more susceptible to diseases, especially cholera.

There are 370,000 cases of suspected cholera and 1,800 associated deaths. Continued fighting damages Yemeni water infrastructure, contributing to what the World Health Organization is calling the “world’s worst cholera outbreak.”

Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, lacks the resources necessary to alleviate poverty on its own. Fourteen million people lack access to clean water, and 30,000 health care workers haven’t been paid in nearly a year.

The situation is dire, but not hopeless. The international community is beginning to recognize how to help people in Yemen. Thanks to support from international organizations, local NGOs are providing necessary food aid. They estimate that the number of malnourished children will be reduced from two million to 385,000.

Nearly everyone who receives adequate treatment for cholera will survive, but the key is getting treatment to those who need it. The World Bank and UNICEF have partnered to help maintain local health institutions in Yemen.
UNICEF has established 1,000 diarrhea treatment centers and oral hydration corners. They have also repaired water systems in rebel-held Taiz, giving 400,000 people access to clean water.

Ordinary citizens are also stepping up to help people in Yemen. 16,000 volunteers travel door to door, educating people on preventing cholera.

The threat of violence, however, still looms over Yemen. President Trump has recently brokered a deal to sell $110 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia, some of which will most likely be used in Yemen. Currently, U.S. aid to Yemen totals only $526 million, which has not been enough to end the violence.

Foreign aid is making a significant positive impact for the people of Yemen, but it is currently not enough. A joint statement from UNICEF and the World Health Organization says the international community doubling its relief efforts is a good solution to the question of how to help people in Yemen, and can save the country from disarray for generations to come.

Kirk Lee

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights In YemenYemen is a nation located in Western Asia at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. Yemen is also the second-largest country in the region and has a population of around 25.5 million people. Due to the unstable nature of the nation’s government coupled with the influence of insurgent groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda, human rights in Yemen is a topic that needs to be discussed for it to move from a developing nation to a developed one.

Human Rights In Yemen

Due to the influence of extremist Islamic groups in this region of the world, Yemen struggles to ensure the rights of its women. As a result, human rights in Yemen are not yet where they need to be.

Even though the Yemeni Constitution of 1994 states that women have equal rights as men, the country still struggles to provide this for all women. Yemen’s Personal Status law gives women fewer rights than men and excludes women from decision making and deprives them access and control over their resources and assets.

On top of this, women in Yemen do not have the right to initiate divorce in the same way a man can. Women must first go to court and justify to the public why divorce is imperative to their safety. Yemen has a horrible record of child marriage. According to a UNICEF study in 2005, 48.4 percent of women in Yemen were married before the age of 18. Worse yet, it was only in 2010 that a new law stated the minimum age for marriage in the country was 17.

Freedom Of The Press

Yemen ranks at 136 out of 167 nations in regards to its press freedom. The government has total control over all television and can ban anything that they deem to be releasing “incorrect” information. To further explain the severity of this situation, a journalist in the newspaper Al-Shura criticized Abdul Majeed al-Zindani in a 2001 newspaper. As a result of this action, this journalist was sentenced to 80 lashes.

Freedom of the press is a luxury that many individuals in the West take for granted. If human rights in Yemen are to improve, the ability to publish information without the threat of violence must first be allowed.

Freedom Of Religion

Due to the immense influence of insurgent groups in the region, freedom of religion is hard to attain. The constitution of the country declares Islam as the state religion and uses Sharia law as the source of all governmental legislation. Although Yemen does allow people to practice any religion, a citizen of Yemen is not authorized to convert to another religion if they are currently Muslim.

Different religious groups in the region often get into conflicts and attacks on Jews in Yemen are commonplace. Since the start of the Shia insurgency in the Middle East, many Zaidi Muslims were accused of supporting them. This accusation led to these groups being arrested, beaten, and at times murdered under false accusations. For human rights in Yemen to improve, and to allow people to have the freedom of religion that the Constitution dictates, significant change must occur in the region.

Progress Is Being Made

Although human rights in Yemen are not ideal at this point in time, the government of Yemen is doing much work to fix this issue. Recently, Yemen has been involved in numerous treaties to repair the state of human rights in the country.

Continued political support of these treaties is one way human rights in Yemen can continue to improve. On top of this, attention from the media in countries with freedom of the press will continue to pressure the government of Yemen to improve these conditions.

Nick Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr

Yemen's Cholera Outbreak
Faced with ongoing violence and humanitarian crises, war-torn Yemen is now experiencing the worst cholera outbreak in the world. As the poorest nation in the Arabian Peninsula, the epidemic is spreading rapidly; however, the U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are working vigilantly to end Yemen’s cholera outbreak.

Cholera, which is spread through contaminated food and water, is a highly contagious bacterial infection. Although cholera is easily treatable, it can prove fatal within hours if left untreated. This is what makes the outbreak in Yemen so dangerous; because of the civil war, treatment can be difficult to find.

In just two months, more than 1,300 people have died in the outbreak, and 25 percent of the casualties are children. UNICEF has reported a suspected 200,000 cases, increasing at a rate of about 5,000 cases a day.

With the armed conflict over the past two years displacing more than 11 percent of Yemen’s population and wounding more than 45,000 people, the outbreak is considered a direct result of the war. Due to the civil war, 14.5 million people have lost access to clean water and sanitation. The impact on children is disproportionate because they are most prone to malnutrition, which makes them even more susceptible to cholera.

But susceptibility is not the only cause of this unprecedented outbreak; the epidemic also is widespread because of a lack of medical access. Most patients have difficulty reaching the few medical facilities within Yemen. Some travel hours to the Sabeen Hospital, which is already overcrowded from those wounded in the war. Of those treating the infected, an estimated 30,000 local health workers have not been paid their salaries in more than 10 months. The limited access to treatment is making Yemen’s cholera outbreak even more severe; humanitarian group Oxfam has called for a ceasefire, but its efforts were unsuccessful.

To slow the outbreak, UNICEF and the WHO are focusing their efforts on accessibility to clean water and sanitation development, as well as medical treatment. Rapid response teams are even going door-to-door to reach families, teaching techniques on storing water and how to protect against the disease.

The largest quantity of emergency oral cholera vaccines—one million doses—was recently approved for use in Yemen. The WHO plans to distribute the vaccine by going house-to-house in priority areas. UNICEF and the WHO have also received a grant of $66.7 million from Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This donation, according to UNICEF, “will make a great difference to thousands of children at risk of contracting this rapidly spreading disease.”

Although the war-torn nation faces a series of humanitarian crises, the efforts of UNICEF and the WHO against Yemen’s cholera outbreak are proving effective. With increasing funding and the approval of vaccines, the fight against cholera seems optimistic.

Kelly Hayes

Photo: Flickr

Two years ago, the conflict in Yemen broke out and left millions of Yemenis internally and externally displaced. Even before the war, Yemen was one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, so this conflict has had a devastating effect on the people of Yemen. Here are 10 facts to know about Yemeni refugees.

10 Facts About Yemeni Refugees

  1. Eighty percent of the population requires some form of humanitarian protection or assistance. Almost 2.4 million Yemenis have been displaced by the war.
  2. Most refugees fled to Saudi Arabia, which, as of 2016, hosted 39,000 Yemeni refugees.
  3. Yemenis have no easy outlets to flee their country, which is mainly due to its geographical location. Saudi Arabia has set up a blockade that prevents food and supplies from being delivered and makes it difficult for Yemenis to escape.
  4. Yemen takes in many refugees from other countries. They now have around 280,000 refugees, mostly from Africa. However, because of the war in Yemen, those refugees have had to return to their home countries.
  5. Six million Yemeni refugees are severely food insecure, resorting to having to send their children out to the streets to beg for food and scavenge from restaurants.
  6. Yemen is facing a cholera outbreak, and more than 29,000 people are infected as well as malnourished.
  7. Yemen does not have enough donors for relief. Only three million out of seven million starving people were fed by aid in May of 2017.
  8. Among the externally displaced Yemenis, 75 percent stated that lack of food was their top reason for leaving Yemen.
  9. A Yemeni child under five dies every ten minutes, usually due to starvation.
  10. You can help by donating to the World Food Program that is aiming to provide food to seven million starving Yemenis.

For close to two years, Yemenis have been living in fear, insecurity and famine. They are not dangerous people–they simply need a place where they can have food and be safe from war. They need aid that they are not receiving. The plight of Yemeni refugees cannot be ended without increased aid.

Kelsey Jackson

Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About the Famine in Yemen

Nestled between Saudi Arabia and Oman, Yemen was declared to be in a state of emergency on March 13, 2017, by the World Food Program. The World Health Organization reports that acute shortages of clean water and sanitation face eight million people. Furthermore, the U.N. International Children’s Emergency Fund says, “There are 2.2 million children in Yemen at risk of acute malnutrition and 462,000 severely and acutely malnourished.”

Millions of people live on the fringe of starvation in Africa as a result of drought, crop failure, population imbalance, government policies and war. The ongoing famine in Yemen affects 17 million people today, roughly 70 percent of its population.

According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), “The situation in Yemen is characterized by widespread insecurity, large-scale displacement, civil strife, political instability, chronic food shortages, a breakdown of social services, endemic poverty, and refugee influxes.”

Here are ten key components of the situation that you should know:

  1. According to the OCHA, Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East and North Africa. A lack of financial resources and infrastructure have created an economy that is unable to support growing conflicts between opposing political factions. The situation has escalated and resulted in the current famine in Yemen.
  2. With a shortage of funding and deep-rooted poverty, more than 50 percent of families in the country are buying food on credit. The situation has accentuated the need for a global humanitarian response in terms of providing medicine and food. These needs are especially paramount for women and children, who represent the most vulnerable of a population during a period of famine or conflict.
  3. A lack of access to food and nutritional resources is not a new situation in Yemen. A locust infestation in the country last April posed a viable threat to food security that has not abated.
  4. The famine in Yemen is due in part to internal conflict between a coalition that is loyal to the internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and the Houthi rebel movement. The conflict has been exacerbated due to an air campaign by Saudi Arabia, with its goal being to restore the Hadi government.
  5. In response to the famine in Yemen, various nations and organizations have contributed resources to mitigate its impact, as well as rebuild its infrastructure and provide medical supplies. The U.N. responded to the crisis with a conference in Geneva in April. Unfortunately, only 15 percent of the $2.1 billion goal was pledged to help resolve the famine in Yemen.
  6. In addition, U.N. aid chief Stephan O’Brien has urged member countries to keep the port of Hodeidah open. The port is the location for the reception of incoming food imports.
  7. The United States government has also responded to the famine in Yemen, with President Donald Trump reiterating his commitment to fighting global famine during his May visit to the Vatican. Although relief funds from the U.S. face severe cuts for the next fiscal year, the momentum has begun for a more proactive global relief program.
  8. One of the strongest responses has been initiated by the WHO, which launched the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan 2017. To achieve success, the plan requires $326 million from a variety of health partners, including $126 million from the U.S. Targeted beneficiaries of the funding will include women and children.
  9. The WHO reported that it had coordinated the operation of 406 general health and nutrition teams in 266 Yemeni districts in 2016, with funding coming from a variety of donors: Japan, the League of Arab States, the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund, the United Arab Emirates, the UNOCHA Common Humanitarian Fund and the U.S.
  10. There have also been responses to the famine from private organizations and individuals. Muslim Aid is running a campaign to raise donations for water and medical aid to Yemen.

Because the famine in Yemen has yet to abate, opportunities remain for humanitarian organizations, governments and private individuals to respond with food products, medicine and financial assistance. The momentum has already begun through the efforts of organizations like WHO and Muslim Aid, and through the contributions of private donors.

Hannah Pickering

Photo: Flickr

A cholera outbreak in Yemen was detected in October of last year. About 500 people have been killed by the outbreak since then. With more and more cases coming into the hospitals, a shortage of doctors, staff and medicine has arisen. With this shortage and increase in the spread, there has been concern for the treatment centers keeping up.

Cholera is a fatal bacterial disease of the small intestine, typically caused by an infected water supply. Yemen is a poor country already and has been in conflict for the past two years, making it vulnerable to an outbreak of this kind. Cholera in Yemen is of great humanitarian concern, especially with respect to its children.

Mothers have discovered their children sick with symptoms of cholera. It is only known that there is nothing to be done but what the treatment facilities must offer. Much like a young boy in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, who was admitted to the hospitals after having an ill night. The mother soon caught the disease, and they both lay in rooms next to each other in one of the treatment centers. Cases like this are commonplace, but organizations are trying to contain this expanding epidemic.

According to Save the Children, as this disease disrupts children’s lives, its hospice needs continue to grow. With this alarming spread, organizations like UNICEF and others are aiding the treatment centers. Mohammed Zaid, a doctor at one of the treatment centers, said they were “urging the international organizations to scale up their responses.” These essential organizations are working hard to combat cholera in Yemen.

They are providing lifesaving services, expanding treatment for children with malnutrition and are working toward supporting displaced families with healthy water and resources.

With weak immune systems and poor living conditions, it seems that these children have hardly anything to look to, like an opportunity for education and development. But the hope these children can look to is national organizations, in duty to give these emerging, poverty areas, vital nourishment. That is the hope the world can give to them, maintaining relief to subdue cholera in Yemen.

Brandi Gomez

Photo: Flickr