Yemen, Chronicles of an Humanitarian Catastrophe

Let’s think again about Arab Springs, that series of anti-governmental protests affecting Arab countries of North Africa and the Middle East originated in Tunisia in late 2010. The uprisings moved from one Arab country to another until they reached Yemen in 2011. Many people came to the streets against the Government. No-one could imagine the humanitarian disaster that happened later.

The peaceful revolution turned into a civil war. Formally, the ongoing armed conflict began on March 26, 2015 between the so-called revolutionary committee, through to as Houthis, who are directly influenced by Iran as both are Shiites, opposed to Sunnis, from a religious point of view, and the former government led by Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, supported by Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the situation on the field is complicated because of the growing influence of several groups of terrorists and ethnic groups like Al-Qaeda and so called Islamic State (ISIS) fighting for both sides only for taking territorial benefits. Finally, the Houthi-led Supreme Revolutionary Committee took the control over the capital Sana’a and the Yemeni government.

As a result, the Hadi’s government had to compel to flee away from the country seeking for Saudi help. Aiming at supporting the loyal ally, Saudi Arabia organized a military coalition accelerated by the USA, Great Britain, France and Turkey and launched military operation using airstrikes to restore the former Yemeni government. Continued airstrikes, shelling and ground fighting have resulted in the destruction and damage of civilian infrastructure. Nowadays, even the public services are disintegrated and the territory of Yemen is used for various illegal businesses, especially drugs, arms, smuggling and so on.

yemen sana upspring

Protests in Yemen. Credits: unimondo.org

This situation being, where is freedom and where is peace? Everywhere, we can see destruction and dead bodies. It was a flashback of 2011 to 2015 when the whole Yemen was under war. Nowadays the situation is horrific and the majority of the population barely surviving, but no one cares about it.

Even though some of the Arab leaders took initiative to control this situation, the initiatives raise a key question: what has already been done by them? Did they step forward to save common people or to support the coalition government? In this case, Houthis supporters clearly speak out that “Saudi Arabia and others coalition supporters are not reliable in case of Yemen rather they are fighting to institute coalition government, due to their airstrike million of Yemeni lose their life and remaining are flee from their residence”.  Hadi’s supporters counterattack that they are satisfied to receive support by Saudi Arabia, most especially dealing with food support, fresh water supply, and other basic facilities.  

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in March 2017 approximately 18.8 million (69% of entire population) Yemenis seek for humanitarian assistance. Among them, 1.7 million are asylum seekers, 17 million suffer from food insecurity where 3.3 million are children and pregnant women. UN High Council for Refugees also estimates that over 3.3 million Yemenis have fled their homes. 14.4 million Yemenis are in need for food or medical aid. The 22 provinces of Yemen have been divided under seven category as an ‘emergency level’:  ten provinces are like ‘crisis level’ by World Food Programme in terms of food insecurity as Yemen depends on importing staple food around 90% and for the conflict, the import has been stopped for uncertain period. As a result, basic commodity prices are on average 30 to 50% higher than before the conflict. Finally, the poverty rate has doubled to 62% by the report of the UN. Many people are lacking access to safe drinking water or sanitation has led to the outbreak of cholera and acute watery diarrhea.

UN reported in March 2017, around 22,181 suspected cases of cholera and 103 associated deaths. In this situation, millions of Yemenis are not only displaced from their basic needs, but also deprived of their fundamental rights. From a legal point of view, it could be considered as a grievous crime. Some Yemenis hoped that all odds could be removed through the peace agreement of Sana’a. Soon after, the bombing in Sana’a killed a number of important political and military leaders who used to support a peace deal, among them the mayor of Sana’a, two Yemeni members of the U.N. cease-fire monitoring team, and a general expected to play an important post-conflict security role. Their deaths empower hard-liners over peacemakers while undercutting capacity to implement any future accord. For this bombing, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an international investigation. Which pushed the U.S. government, for selling approximately $22.2 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia, before the war and finally this investigation proved that it supports the coalition government of Yemen. So what is actually going on behind curtain difficult to measure.

In statements, a war conflict cannot bring peace, rather it can just destroy hope. It represents for us “a dish of demolition” through the cost of humanity. In front of the humanitarian catastrophe taking place in Yemen right now, here is the humanity for which our civil society are shouting for establishing human rights? Some initiatives have been taken to control this situation. More than 70 humanitarian organizations have been working to help those people seriously affected and victims of this civil war, however, the effort is not enough until children are still starving, elderlies are still dying. Even though some Arab leaders pretend to be acting to face the situation, they’re not taking part beside civilians, but supporting one competition or another. It is an obvious fact that the Arab States, the UN, the United States, Russia and our civil society should care about Yemen and make a perfect follow up strategy to establish peace and security in the country through roundtable discussion among the parties engaged in the civil war. Media can play a pivotal role by printing and broadcasting regular articles, ‘Talk Show’ so that the world would be more conscious about the fact which is still going on before our eyes in a silent mood.

 

Tanjil Hossein

Tanjil Hossain

I am Tanjil Hossain, Bangladeshi by birth and have completed my Bachelor of Law with Honours and Master of Law from one of reputed Universities of Bangladesh named BUBT (Bangladesh University of Business and Technology), Dhaka, Bangladesh. Now I’m pursuing my MA degree with Human Rights and Multilevel Governance at University of Padova. The main goal of Human Rights is to establish Fundamental rights for all and those fundamental rights which are reserved for human and these are neither destroyed nor can be abrogated by anybody. As Human Rights student I would like to reach my message to the general people through my article writing about different topics of human rights violation throughout the world so that I can raise awareness among people who are not concerned about the ongoing situation of their surroundings and promote of universalism of human rights. 

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