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Today, numerous national conflicts and wars promote the development of humanitarian crises and other challenges of critical importance. The essence of a humanitarian crisis is a situation in which people face certain threats in regards to their health and safety. For many years, the majority of countries believed that humanitarian crises could occur only after a natural disaster or a climate change-related weather incident.
Today, however, war is the primary cause of humanitarian crises in many countries around the world. According to OCHA, the humanitarian situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate, with poverty, conflicts, and human rights violations increasing.1 This case study aims to describe the causes of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, analyzing the actions taken by the state, business, and third sectors, including different non-governmental voluntary organizations, and evaluating the responses of different parties.
Humanitarian Crisis Description
Yemen covers a 527,968-square-kilometer area on the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula, and the country has a population of about 26,737,317 people.2 The Republic of Yemen was created in 1990. Just four years later, in 1994, the country survived a civil war caused by the political discontent of its citizens. At the end of 2009, al Qaeda based in Yemen was accused of terroristic activities. At that point, political conflicts with Saudi Arabia began. At the moment, Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Arab world because of the devastation caused by multiple wars, airstrikes, and a poor economic situation.
The roots of the conflict lie in the country’s failed political transition and have led to more than 80% of the Yemen population needs humanitarian aid. Numerous conflicts and blockades continue to plague the country. Currently, more than 3 million Yemenis have been displaced around the world, more than 14 million people continue suffering in Yemen, and 370,000 children are at risk of starvation.3
Critical Analysis of the Actions
The governmental representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom, Priti Patel included, have made numerous attempts to provide the Yemeni people with the required humanitarian aid. The British government believes that it is necessary to relieve the humanitarian suffering of the citizens of Yemen before it is too late.4 The UK, as the representative of the third sector, continues to provide Yemenis with food, water, and medical supplies.
The existing government of Yemen has tried to highlight the main needs of its people and protect their lives by any possible means. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other organizations that could promote the protection of human rights have already noted that Yemen is on the list of countries whose citizens are most in need of humanitarian help and have demonstrated that all parties of the conflict should take responsibility for human rights violations.5
The panel discussion that occurred on February 17, 2016, was based on the opinions of Al-Akhali, the Yemeni Minister of Youth and Sports, and Badi, a government spokesman and advisor to the Yemeni prime minister.6 Al-Akhali explained that it is necessary to restore the hope of the youth as one possible way to save the country and promote peace. There are many ways to inspire youth. Still, the most effective ideas involve the creation of temporary jobs for young people so that they can work during the conflict and develop their skills. Such a program would also contribute to people’s motivation to save their own lives and the development of the wartime economy.
It is also important to prevent young people from owning weapons and focusing on a war mentality because such attitudes could influence youth negatively. The nature of the conflict helps further clarify which types of interventions could be used to prevent rights abuses and threats.7 To this end, Badi underlined the fact that the history of the conflict should not be forgotten because its analysis and evaluation could help organizations understand its possible ways of development and measurements that could be imposed.
Representatives of the Yemeni government have taken several worthy steps to support negotiations and combine the intentions of political and military figures. Negotiations should be organized between local parties rather than at the international level. The support and involvement of international communities may promote new aspects of conflicts that will be harder for the country and its opponents to solve.
Critical Evaluation of Responses
The main concern regarding the resolution of the Yemeni humanitarian crisis is that almost all actions and ideas are in verbal form only. Although many governmental and voluntary representatives recognize the necessity to solve the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the Yemeni people continue to suffer a lot. Instead of only providing humanitarian help, countries should think about how to stop war and conflict in the country and how to provide Yemeni children with a safe future. At the same time, an analysis of governmental steps and discussions shows that the value and quality of the humanitarian aid offered by foreign countries are doubtful.
On one hand, many people do receive the required rations of food and water to survive. On the other hand, however, it is hard to control how the offered help is distributed among the citizens of Yemen. All parties involved in this project have to understand one thing: the current humanitarian crisis in Yemen is the result of an internal conflict that has to be solved directly between the parties of the conflict. The participation of other countries and the need to prove the correctness of one party will not lead to positive results in the country.
The goal that Yemen must achieve at the moment is to stop the war and make sure that no other conflicts occur on the land. As soon as the leaders of the conflicting parties come to a resolution, the humanitarian crisis could be solved with the help of other countries and their humanitarian aid. However, until the war is over, the humanitarian crisis cannot be stopped.
Yemen is a country with a government that cannot control the activities of its people with weapons and cannot improve the living conditions for those people who do not have weapons and are unable to protect their own lives. Therefore, the majority of responses by the parties mentioned are appropriate – Yemen has to stop the war to keep its people from dying of starvation.
In general, the political situation and the humanitarian crisis in Yemen are crucial points for consideration. People have to understand that the number of human deaths must be reduced. Humanitarian aid offered by both the Yemeni government and foreign countries could be effective as long as people can access it. However, the roles of foreign countries and the value of their humanitarian aid efforts should be re-evaluated to make sure they do not prevent the Yemeni government from solving the military conflict and protecting the lives of its people.
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BBC News, ‘Yemen crisis: Who is fighting whom?’, BBC [website], 2016. Web.
CNN Library, ‘Yemen fast facts’, CNN [website], 2016. Web.
Department for International Development, ‘Priti Patel drives new international action to tackle the forgotten humanitarian crisis in Yemen’, GOV.UK, 2016. Web.
Macklem, P., ‘Humanitarian intervention and the distribution of sovereignty in international law’, Ethics & International Affairs, vol. 22, no. 4, 2008, pp.369-393.
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘Humanitarian needs overview 2016’, Reliefweb, 2016. Web.
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘Crisis overview’, OCHA, 2016. Web.
‘Yemen in Crisis: What Can be Done?’, Brookings, Event transcription. Web.
- United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘Crisis overview’, OCHA [website], 2016. Web.
- CNN Library, ‘Yemen fast facts’, CNN [website], 2016. Web.
- BBC News, ‘Yemen crisis: Who is fighting whom?’, BBC [website], 2016. Web.
- Department for International Development, ‘Priti Patel drives new international action to tackle the forgotten humanitarian crisis in Yemen’, GOV.UK [website], 2016. Web.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘Humanitarian needs overview 2016’, Reliefweb [website], 2016. Web.
- ‘Yemen in Crisis: What Can be Done?’, Brookings [website], Event transcription. Web.
- P. Macklem, ‘Humanitarian intervention and the distribution of sovereignty in international law’, Ethics & International Affairs, vol. 22, no. 4, 2008, p.371.