Amidst all the turmoil in the world today, there is one conflict where we hardly hear anything about. I am talking about the vast humanitarian disaster that is taking place in Yemen right now. The country has been struck by devastating civil war since 2015 that has escalated with the attacks of a full blown international coalition.
Who is involved in the conflict ?
To get a clear view about who is involved and what is exactly happening, we need to go back a bit in time. The events of the Arab Spring and what happened in it’s wake also did not leave Yemen untouched.
After a series of protest against former president Abdullah al-Saleh, he resigned and transmitted the power to Mansour Hadi. Sadly, this didn’t bring about any tangible difference for a lot of people. Yemen is one of the least developed countries in the Arabic world and a sizable part of the population was already living in poverty. For them, the change of government didn’t do much, one corrupt ruler was replaced by another one.
On top of that, there are a lot of internal points of conflict that divide the society. One of them being the contradiction between the north and the south of the country. Until 1990, Yemen consisted of two states, something we still see reflected in the current opposition between the Houthi’s, who represent the interests of the north, and president Hadi, who represents the interests of the south and is backed by the Saudi led coalition.
The Houthi rebels, or Ansarullah as they call themselves, is a movement that emerged during the nineties in the northern Sa’dah province of Yemen. Although they represent Zaydi Islam, they claim to be foremost a revolutionary movement fighting for equal rights and economic justice of people in the north.With the new president Hadi in power, they didn’t seize their activities and they continued to fight the central government.
As of 2015 they escalated their activities and took control of the capital Sana’a. Since then the Houthi movement colluded with former president Saleh and gradually their forces were incorporated in the state apparatus. Mansour Hadi fled to the southern city of Aden and since then the conflict evolved into a full blown civil war.
Unfortunately things only started to get worse from here on with the start of the intervention of the Saudi led coalition in 2015. This coalition consists of Saudi-Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Senegal, Sudan and the United Arabic Emirates and is backed by the United States.
The official goal of the intervention is to secure the position of Mansour Hadi and to secure safety in the region but so far the results are nothing less then disastrous. Daily air raids with little to no consideration for civilian casualties have deeply disturbed daily life.
Clearly we are dealing with a complex political situation and the people of Yemen are paying a heavy price as they are directly and indirectly affected. At this moment, more than 15.000 people have lost their lives and more than 3.5 million were forced to flee their homes due to the heavy violence.
On top of that the country has been struck by a widespread and heavy famine unfolding itself in front of the world’s eyes and next to some of the worlds richest countries such as the Gulf States. At this moment 17 million people are lacking a steady force of food security and 19 million people do not have acces to clean water and sanitation. Amidst all of this children are the most vulnerable, nearly 2,2 million are malnourished, including half a million who are severely malnourished and at imminent risk of death if they do not receive urgent care and specialized treatment.
Furthermore Yemen’s main ports have been blocked by the coalition since the beginning of the war, denying important necessities like food and medical supplies. Another consequence of the conflict is a general economical malaise, a lot of people have not received salaries for over six months, which only worsens their dire situations.
It is clear the country is on the brink of destruction right now and the rest of the world can not look away anymore. We need to inform people about the tragedy that is taking place. Despite of the horrible situation the people of Yemen are not giving up. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know and befriending some Yemeni’s and they are without a doubt some of the most kind hearted people i know. In face of the disaster they are living in and daily threat to their lives they remain steadfast and hopeful.
How You Could Help
This is also why i didn’t want this article to be only another report of all the things going wrong in the world. I’d like to take the opportunity to focus on some independent organisations in Yemen that are doing truly great work on the ground. One of the local organisations that are performing really great work is Human Needs Development. They are a group based around Sana’a that try to alleviate the pain of the people directly and indirectly afflicted by the war and works strictly with volunteers. Some of their activities include the distribution of food to people in need and the collection of data about displaced people and victims of war.
Another group of people who are doing truly wonderful work are the Your Abilities volunteer organisation. The staff are hard working and honest and have put in a lot of their own money to support the activities.These have included distribution of food baskets to families, distribution of clothing and entertainments activities for kids in parks and through art, and many others.
Please take a look on their pages for further information and know that even a small donation goes a long way. These groups depend on foreign and independent donations, so here is an opportunity where you can truly make a difference. To make donations to Your Abilities it is best to take up contact with their page on Facebook directly and if you want to help out for Human Needs Development you can do this here.
This article is written by Simon Hendrickx