A year of war: Yemen's deepening humanitarian crisis

A year of war: Yemen's deepening humanitarian crisis
3 min read
26 March, 2016
With thousands dead, unemployment rising and food in short supply, the only clear outcome after a year of war in Yemens is the country's humanitarian catastrophe.
The Saudi-led intervention has entered its first year [AFP]

Since Yemen's conflict began on 26 March 2015, the country has been plunged into a humanitarian crisis that exacerbated conditions in the already beleaguered nation.

According to the UN, an estimated 6,400 people have been killed in 12 months of conflict, half of whom are civilians.

Another 30,000 people have been injured and 2.5 million Yemenis have been displaced since the start of the Saudi-led intervention.

Now, it is estimated that 20 million Yemenis are in need of aid due to crippling shortages.

A report published by Oxfam earlier this week also warned of a looming financial crisis that threatens to exacerbate the food crisis that has already gripped the country.

Food is in short supply for Yemenis after the destruction of farms and fishing boats by airstrikes.

According to the Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the war has forced 65 percent of Yemen's fishermen out of work, along with 650,000 casual workers.

Prior to the escalation of violence last March, around half of all Yemenis were already living below the poverty line, with 61 percent of the population in need of humanitarian assistance.

With much of the world focused on the Syrian conflict and the migrant crisis, however, it seems that Yemen's plight has continued without the attention it deserves.

The conflict has deepened the country's woes, with a UN survey from August and September 2015 reporting that the businesses that still had stocks only had less than two months worth of supplies.

With much of the world focused on the Syrian conflict and the migrant crisis, however, it seems that Yemen's plight has continued without the attention it deserves.

"Yemen was already forgotten, prior to the escalation of the conflict," said Johannes van der Klaauw of UNHCR.

"I see that the international community and particularly Europe has now galvanised more support and also political action because the Syrians and the Iraqis are coming in large numbers to Europe. If the Yemenis would do the same I am sure there would be more attention for Yemen."

This lack of concern is reflected in the response to the UN's humanitarian appeal for Yemen, which as of 22 March had only received 12 percent of the $1.8 billion required to cover the needs of 13.6 million people.

Earlier this year, the UK became the fourth biggest humanitarian donor to Yemen after its Department for International Development (DfID) pledged £85 million in aid to the country.

This gesture, however, demonstrates the paradoxical role of Britain and other Western nations in Yemen's war, as Saudi Arabia has purchased billions of dollars of arms from the US and UK to continue its brutal war in the country.

A year after entering the conflict, the Saudis have failed to fulfil their aim of restoring the Government of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and the Houthi militias they oppose remain largely intact.

By agreeing to reenter UN mediated peace talks in Kuwait after the April 10 ceasefire comes into effect, it seems that the Kingdom has conceded that a continued military onslaught is no longer feasible.

With peace talks having broken down in the past, many remain sceptical about the prospects of the April peace talks, with the country effectively locked in a stalemate.

Meanwhile, the fate of Yemen's 21.2 million people who are dependent on humanitarian aid hangs precariously in the balance, with an entire generation of children growing up with the terror of airstrikes and bloodshed as a daily fact of life.