The Yemen civil war exploded in 2015 when Shiite Houthi occupied the capital, Sana’s, to force the president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, to leave the country. Thereafter, the war scaled to international level as it has drawn in Iran supporting the Houthi while Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates aiding the Hadi administration. Since then major cities in Yemen have been suffering from the war that the UN news reveals over 20 million people suffering from malnutrition, famine, gender-based violence urgently in need of humanitarian protection assistance.
The president Hadi’s administration is now based in Aden while the Houthi controls the west part of Yemen including some strategic locations: Al Hudaida, Sa’ada, Sana’s where international humanitarian aid has restricted access to provide aid and protection.
(photo credit to: https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/the-problem-with-humanitarian-assistance-in-yemen)
Humanitarian Crisis is now a major concern
The war has caused an explosion of humanitarian crisis, which the major problems are identified as followed: Health, Sanitation, Famine, Gender-based Violence, Refugee, Asylum Seekers.
Yemen has long been the poorest country in the Middle East and now it is even poorer as the war induced the society’s malfunction. This civil war disrupted the salary payments to medical staff and delivery of essential medicine supplies. Urban and rural water and sanitary systems collapsed to meet people’s sanitary needs, which in turn gave rise to cholera outbreak. Children with malnutrition suffer from limited food supply become more vulnerable to disease. This leads to the vicious cycle of famine, disease and lack of healthcare as well as food supply. Moreover, the closure of major transport links to external food supplies worsened the famine.
The Yemeni people, forced to leave their home in search of shelters, suffer from being arrested, detained, sexually-exploited and low-quality asylum living condition. With the interrupting economic condition, the number and quality of health authorities, medical institutions, asylums and shelters is decreasing while the number of affected people is increasing. The Yemen war has drawn attention to the catastrophe of humanitarian crisis.
While there are now 8 UN agencies, 34 international non-governmental organizations and 98 national non-governmental organizations situated in those strategic places (Al Hudaida, Sa’ada, Sana’s, Aden), report shows that it is still difficult to provide aid due to the restricted access, local authorities deterring external assistance and mainly the closure of Sana’a airport.
Roles of Responsibility Involving in
The Yemen government failed to provide protection to its people due to limited capacity as well as resources. The chaotic governance and societal malfunction require external assistance but the local authorities are opposed to and even violent against international humanitarian staff.
Iran is believed to support the Houthi by providing financial and military assistance while the Hadi administration is backed by the Saudi-led coalition which includes Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the West. Drawn in the conflict between Iran and the US, the other countries play significant role in coordinating the humanitarian crisis and mediating the conflict. The action of the UN Security Council is now to been watched as the US, UK, France (Russia and China in a lesser level) support militarily to the Saudi-led coalition. Analysis shows that the extension of the Yemen civil war can partially blame the other countries’ participating in. Despite the Yemen conflict continuing, the most important is the number of people suffering is increasing, which attaches the importance to humanitarian aid.
The UNOCHA Financial Track reveals the donors of humanitarian aid to Yemen are the US, UK, Germany, the European Commission, the World Bank, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Canada, Sweden and all major international non-governmental organizations devoted into different sectors from water supply to food supply. Still, report shows that it has been difficult to provide such aid on ground to those acutely needed. Not only the external aid is not accessible to those affected area but also the internal aid is collapsed due to war-affected economic system.
As the humanitarian crisis continue deteriorating in Yemen, a ceasefire is in need to allow external access for medical assistance, sanitary facilities and food supply.
ICRD calls for the urgent need of humanitarian aid to Yemen and pleads the UK, US and France to assist making up a ceasefire in Yemen for full access of humanitarian aid to be provided to the Yemeni people.
The UN called the Yemen crisis as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The UN human right office blames the air strike by the Saudi-led coalition for the war casualties. The Sweden and Switzerland governments together with the UN convened the third High-level Pledging Event, on 26 February, for the Yemen Humanitarian Crisis revealed the urgent support to the over 20 million affected Yemeni people.
ICRD invites that those parties attending in the pledging conference, the countries involving in the Yemen crisis, the NGOs aiming for humanitarian support can coordinate to end the war in Yemen, assist the local authorities to build up fundamental facilities and to allow access for humanitarian aid.
Author: Yung Lin, Researcher at ICRD