SEATTLE — As the Yemen Civil War enters its third year in 2018, it becomes imperative to address the dire humanitarian emergency it entails. Yemen, a country that is unfortunately now one of the poorest countries in the Middle East, is reeling from a massive food crisis.
According to the United Nations, the situation in Yemen remains the world’s most dire, and somehow forgotten, humanitarian crisis. The Yemen Civil War has also had grave impacts on the history and culture of the country. UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as the city of Sanaa and the Awwam Temple, have sustained damage from coalition forces and Houthi rebels.
Consequently, the death toll in the Yemen Civil War currently stands at 10,000. Since March 2015, over 20 million individuals (80 percent of the population) have grown to become reliant on foreign and domestic aid. Two-thirds of the population is on the verge of starvation. The United Nations is seeking $3 billion to address the imminent famine in Yemen.
Apart from historical grievances, the long-term causes of the problem can be traced back to the Arab Spring in 2011, when longtime president Ali Abdullah Saleh handed down power to his deputy Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Owing to Hadi’s inability to cope with the economic problems in the country and a series of corruption allegations, the Houthi rebels gained momentum and capitalized on the disenfranchisement of ordinary Yemenis. President Hadi was forced to flee the country in 2015.
Yemen has also been the battleground for two of the region’s most formidable powers, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The animosity between the countries is unfortunate, as Yemen is becoming a battleground for a proxy war that is causing both internal and external displacement of over 2.7 million individuals and imperiling the lives of many.
Addressing the dangers of the Yemen Civil War is particularly important on the frontlines of the conflict. The Battle of Aden has had an especially large impact on the number of casualties among the civilian population. On January 22, 2018, Saudi Arabia pledged $1.5 billion in aid to Yemen. With the country under threat of an impending famine and various waterborne diseases, the United Kingdom is also dedicating £50 million to ease the problem. The funding will also be channeled to improving water and hygiene services.
Working with the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), the Saudi military coalition has opened up a port to allow for the flow of imports and food supplies that are needed to address the impending famine plaguing the country. According to a recent report by Reuters, the United States has also partnered with the WFP to assist in the channeling of aid in the Houthi-controlled port of Hodeidah.
Despite various challenges, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has been providing life-saving humanitarian aid and assistance since the year 2012. The primary focus of the IRC aid is on nutrition, health, emergency aid, water and sanitation.
Sanitation is a key focus due to the threat of cholera. The disease remains a grave concern as it is having negative effects on hundreds of vulnerable Yemenis. Children suffering from malnutrition are particularly at risk. The IRC is bolstering health facilities and the quality of medical services by providing more training to emergency health staff.
The Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan of 2017 allocated $2.1 billion for over 12 million people to fund life- saving assistance and promote safety and security in the country. Furthermore, the 2018 framework seeks to improve and build on the 2017 model. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations is playing a more active role in promoting food security and supporting the growth of agriculture.
The Yemen Civil War remains one of the most crucial humanitarian emergencies to address in 2018. With more international attention and successes in humanitarian aid, the negative impacts of the conflict will be mitigated.
– Shivani Ekkanath