Yemen - ReliefWeb News
Global Overview NOVEMBER 2016
November saw violence escalate again in Syria, Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Cameroon. Attacks by pro-regime forces on rebel strongholds in Syria resumed, causing significant civilian casualties. In Myanmar’s Rakhine state intensifying violence displaced tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, while a major attack by armed groups near the Chinese border threatened to undermine the country’s fragile ethnic peace process. In DRC, violence rose in the east and the regime continued to repress dissent, underscoring the risk that renewed protests, likely in December when President Kabila’s second term officially ends, could turn violent. In Cameroon, Boko Haram stepped up its attacks in the Far North and minority English-speakers clashed with security forces in the North West region. The victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election on 8 November created uncertainty about possible shifts in future U.S. foreign policy priorities and positions, including on a number of conflicts and prominent geostrategic arenas – among them the future of the historic multilateral nuclear accord with Iran.
Emergency (IPC Phase 4) continues; Additional assistance is urgently needed to fill consumption gaps
Severe food insecurity continues across conflict-affected areas of western Yemen with an estimated 7 to 10 million people facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or higher food insecurity. Of this food insecure population, approximately 25 percent is likely in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). While large-scale food assistance programs are ongoing throughout the country, needs significantly exceed current assistance levels. Additional humanitarian assistance is urgently needed to fill food consumption gaps, treat acute malnutrition, and save lives.
Data on current food security outcomes in Yemen is limited. However, based on the currently available information on household food consumption and malnutrition and the projected evolution of food availability and access during the coming months, FEWS NET estimates that it is possible that some populations could face Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) between November 2016 and May 2017 in zones where the impacts of conflict on household livelihoods and humanitarian access have been most severe.
After a mid-November, 48-hour ceasefire was not renewed, fighting and airstrikes continue across Yemen, disrupting household access to typical livelihood activities. Preliminary results of a FEWS NET rapid assessment conducted in October 2016 found that most surveyed households reported that their incomes were below 2014 levels. The assessment also found increasing difficulties accessing international remittances compared to the previous August 2016 assessment and confirmed reports from other organizations that most government salaries are not being paid. Below-average incomes are limiting poor households’ food access through market purchase.
A cholera outbreak continues in Yemen’s western areas. As of November 24, 2016, 103 confirmed cases and 6,121 suspected cases have been reported. Affected governorates include Abyan, Ad Dali', Aden, Al Bayda’, Al Hudaydah, Amanat Al Asimah, Amran, Hajjah, Ibb, Lahij, Sana’a, and Ta’izz.
Conflict and drought to drive severe acute food insecurity through at least May 2017
A major food security emergency continues in Yemen as an estimated seven to 10 million people face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity. In Ta’izz and southern coastal areas of Al Hudaydah, conflict-related disruptions to livelihoods are causing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, with elevated levels of acute malnutrition and excess mortality likely. Although data is limited, some populations could face Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) between October 2016 and May 2017 in areas where conflict has most restricted livelihoods and humanitarian access.
Despite the ongoing harvest, persistent insecurity continues to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes in much of South Sudan. Many internally displaced persons in parts of Western Bahr el Ghazal, Unity, and Greater Equatoria already in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) have limited access to their farms or humanitarian assistance. Poor households in Unity and Northern Bahr el Ghazal with little harvests could face Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) during the atypically long February to July lean season, in the absence of humanitarian assistance.
Poor performance of October to December rainfall in central and southern Somalia, southern and southeastern Ethiopia, and northern and northeastern Kenya is leading to a second consecutive below-average season. Poor pasture regeneration is leading to poor livestock body conditions, atypical livestock migration, and below-average food and income from livestock and livestock products. Harvests and labor income from agricultural activities are also expected to be well below average in some areas. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected between January and May 2017 in parts of these areas.
Although food security is expected to improve in most Kiremt-dependent areas in Ethiopia, below-average Meher harvests in eastern and central Oromia and SNNPR are expected to lead to limited improvements in food security, particularly in worst-affected areas such as East and West Hararghe. The early exhaustion of food stocks and reduced coping capacity following consecutively poor Meher seasons in these areas, combined with additional needs in pastoral areas, will lead to higher than normal assistance needs through at least mid-2017.
In Sudan, 2016/17 harvests are expected to be above average, which are already contributing to improvements in food security in many areas affected by drought in 2015. However, improvements in food security are likely to be limited by displacement and conflict-related restrictions on agricultural activities and trade in parts of South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Jebel Marra areas of Darfur. In addition, recent austerity measures may lead to increased transportation costs that could impact staple food prices.
World: Geneva Call gathers 21 armed movements in Geneva to discuss how to end child recruitment and to better protect children in armed conflict
From 22 to 24 November 2016, 31 leaders, commanders and advisers of 21 armed movements from 11 countries, including Syria, Iraq, Colombia, Yemen, and Burma/Myanmar, participated in workshops and discussions around the issue of child protection in armed conflict.
« We thank Geneva Call for this meeting on international norms to protect children, and for recognizing our role to promote human values in armed conflict, and this even though we are considered outlawed in our country » said a representative of an armed movement.
During three days, Geneva Call and specialized agencies delivered training sessions on international norms and mechanisms protecting children in armed conflict as well as on specific issues, such as methods to assess the age of new recruits and the release and reintegration of child soldiers.
Speakers included the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, and experts from UNICEF, Save the Children, War Child, Protect Education in Insecurity and Conflict (PEIC) and the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA). The last day sessions, co-organized with PEIC, were dedicated to the protection of education, in particular the protection of schools from military use and attack.
In parallel to these sessions, representatives of armed movements were able to share their experiences and the challenges they face in implementing international norms. «All parties to the conflict should apply the same rules. It is difficult to protect schools when the enemy is bombing or using them » said a participant.
Geneva Call is in continuous dialogue with all the participating movements to promote their respect for humanitarian norms. While nine of them had already signed Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict, two groups made new pledges during the event: the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) – already a signatory to the Deed of Commitment – signed an Action Plan with the UN to end the recruitment and use of children in hostilities and another African movement signed Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment.
«The meeting was a key opportunity to strengthen armed movements’ knowledge and ownership of international norms but also to identify practical measures they could take to ensure compliance, » noted Pascal Bongard, Geneva Call’s Policy Director. He assured that, « Geneva Call will follow up on the actual implementation on the ground of these measures with each armed movement.»
The meeting also provided a unique opportunity for specialized agencies to interact with this kind of actors and to identify ways to increase assistance to children in need living in areas under their control. « Often basic services such as healthcare or education are lacking, which may lead children to join armed movements,» Pascal Bongard added.
The event was organized with the support of PEIC, UNICEF, Loterie Romande and the Governments of Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland.
Geneva Call regularly organizes such meetings in Geneva on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. 35 armed movements attended the last one in 2014.
List of participating armed movements: http://bit.ly/2gOUWLF
The Crisis Overview 2016: Humanitarian Trends and Risks for 2017, outlines the countries where needs are greatest, and growing, as we approach the end of 2016.
Based on our weekly Global Emergency Overview (GEO), and four years of data on humanitarian needs across 150 countries, we have identified ten countries where humanitarian needs are likely to be highest in 2017, as well as four that merit attention as they face a potential spike in needs. We also consider the humanitarian situation in the northern triangle region of Latin America, where the wide-ranging humanitarian impact of pervasive gang violence is chronically underreported.
The ten countries identified to be in highest humanitarian need in this report are those that have consistently been at Level 3 (Severe Humanitarian Crisis) in the ACAPS GEO for the 12 weeks preceding the report (mid-July to early October), and that we consider likely to be facing worse situations in the coming year.
The GEO measures underlying vulnerability, access constraints, and current needs to determine overall need for humanitarian assistance. It ranks countries according to three levels: situation of concern, humanitarian crisis, and severe humanitarian crisis.
The second list adds four countries, and one region that our monitoring and analysis determines to be at significant risk of a new or increased humanitarian crisis within the coming six months.
Our overview does not attempt to predict sudden-onset disasters, rather to analyse the broad evolution of the situation in countries hit by longer-term, more complex crises.
Despite the regional nature of many crises, we focus on countries because data collection and response is generally country-focused.
Comparing disasters is an intricate and controversial endeavour, and we cannot fully account for the complexity and diversity of the many crises around the world. This report is not therefore intended to rank or compare the humanitarian situation in different countries directly, but simply to summarise the evolution in the most pressing humanitarian needs.
Due to the lack of access by air to the city of Aden, Yemen, the Logistics Cluster coordinates and facilitates passenger movement via sea on a WFP-chartered vessel, which also serves as an emergency rescue and evacuation vessel.
Additionally, cargo transportation on board of the same vessel is also facilitated.
Since May 2016, a regular schedule and booking system has been in place, with weekly rotations between Djibouti and Aden. The schedule has been designed so to allow passengers to easily connect with UNHAS flights on Djibouti route to and from Sana’a.
A snapshot containing additional information can be found at http://www.logcluster.org/document/snapshotpassenger-sea-transport-november-2016 .
Pending availability of resources and based on needs, the service will be maintained through 2017.
From May to November 2016, 30 voyages took place between Djibouti and Aden, transporting a total of 553 passengers on behalf of 23 agencies.
The vessel currently under contract, VoS Apollo, will go dry docking in the UAE in early December, until mid-January. To ensure continuity of the service during this period, WFP has chartered a sister ship (VoS Triton). The new vessel will be operational from 4December 2016.
From January to October 2016, national and international humanitarian partners have reached more than 5 million people with direct humanitarian assistance across Yemen's 22 governorates. This has been accomplished despite the access constraints that continue to be imposed by the parties to the conflict.
The cholera outbreak, declared in early October, is affecting 15 governorates; humanitarians are responding with health, water, and sanitation interventions to treat and contain the spread of the disease.
The 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan has received 57 per cent funding against the 1.6 billion appeal to date.
This year’s Oslo Forum, which took place between the 14-15 June, was attended by around 100 prominent mediators, peace process actors and high-level decision-makers. The report from this meeting, which is released today, summarises the discussions during the event.
Participants at the 2016 Oslo Forum included John F. Kerry, United States Secretary of State; Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Mohammad Javad Zarif, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran; Micheline Calmy-Rey, former President of the Swiss Confederation; Jan K. Eliasson, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General; Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court; Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation; Børge Brende, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs; as well as the Foreign Ministers of Lebanon, Mongolia and New Zealand.
During the Forum, guests shared practical experiences and engaged in lively exchanges on current peacemaking practice and trends. The overarching theme of the event was ‘Adapting to a new conflict landscape’, reflecting the emergent challenges mediators face in responding to the changing face of conflict. The highlights of the retreat included a keynote address by the US Secretary of State on current international peacemaking challenges around the world, and a discussion between the High Representative of the European Union and the Iranian and Norwegian Ministers of Foreign Affairs on the prospects for peace in the Middle East and North Africa.
Other topics covered during the event included opportunities for a political accommodation in Afghanistan; negotiations to end the Colombian civil war; peace talks on the Yemen conflict; challenges relating to the Libyan Political Agreement; mediation efforts in Cyprus; and lessons learned from ceasefire agreements in a number of conflict contexts.
The Oslo Forum Series is co-hosted by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) and the Norwegian Government. It includes an annual international gathering in Oslo as well as regional events in Asia and Africa. These events provide mediators and peace process actors with a unique opportunity to share their experiences, test new ideas, and craft innovative solutions to some of the complex problems they face.
HD wishes to express its gratitude to the Norwegian Government for its support for, and commitment to, the Oslo Forum.
The violence in the Middle East obfuscates the fact that there exists also a story of peace efforts across the region—a story of small successes, big frustrations, setbacks, and failures. Through these efforts, UN mediators have sought to achieve the often irreconcilable goals of ending violence while facilitating a political transition and reconciling the parties.
Building on the findings of papers previously published by IPI on UN mediation in Libya, Syria, and Yemen, this report draws crosscutting lessons for ongoing and future UN mediation in similarly complex and violent political transitions. These lessons are organized around five key challenges that mediators confront:
Mandate: Much of the success or failure of a mediation depends on the mandate. While mediators do not necessarily need a clear mandate from the beginning, their success depends on unequivocal support from the Security Council at certain key stages of their mediation. This lack of clarity and the perception that the end result—political transition—was a precondition for negotiation frustrated the processes in Libya and Syria.
Impartiality and inclusivity: It is neither possible nor always necessary for mediators to be completely impartial, but they must make proposals agreeable to the parties—a particular challenge during political transitions. Regarding inclusivity, every mediator is forced to make choices about who to include, and though any deficiencies generally involve leaving key actors out, sometimes a less inclusive process could have worked better.
Entry and consent: Finding a favorable entry point—a moment when the conflict is “ripe” for resolution—is a challenge for mediators. While in Syria the UN is often faulted for being late to the conflict, the UN’s early entry in Libya did not improve the chances of mediation. The case of Yemen, however, demonstrates how early, low-profile engagement can help develop more favorable entry points.
Strategy: Mediators face a dilemma in how to use cease-fires as conflict management tools; they can help build confidence among the parties, but they can also prolong the conflict by creating a tolerable stalemate. Cease-fires were only a minor part of the strategy of the mediators in all three countries. Greater emphasis on this mediation tool should be considered in future processes.
Leverage: The greatest challenge UN mediators faced in leveraging power is that they represented a multilateral organization made up of many member states with competing agendas. But mediators who are UN insiders can also work the system in their favor. There are also other forms of leverage available to them, such as personal prestige and informational power.
Yemen: Note to Correspondents - Statement attributable to the Secretary General's Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed
The announcement by Ansar Allah and the General People’s Congress on the formation of a new government in Sana’a represents a new and concerning obstacle to the peace process and does not serve the interests of the people of Yemen in these difficult times. Such unilateral actions contradict the recent commitments provided by Ansar Allah and the General People’s Congress to the United Nations and to United States Secretary of State John Kerry in Muscat.
Yemen is at a critical juncture. The actions recently taken by Ansar Allah and the General People's Congress will only complicate the search for a peaceful solution. The parties must hold Yemen’s national interests above narrow partisan ambitions and take immediate steps to end political divisions and address the country’s security, humanitarian and economic challenges. New political arrangement should only be based on UN sponsored negotiations, and not unilateral actions by any side.
There is still a chance to pull Yemen back from the brink. The roadmap I presented to the parties recently offers such an opportunity. I ask the representatives of Ansar Allah and the General People’s Congress to re-think their approach and demonstrate their commitment to the peace process with concrete actions. It is crucial to engage constructively in the peace process in order to reach a negotiated settlement that brings about a permanent end to military hostilities and enables the resumption of a peaceful, inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led political transition that meets the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Yemeni people.
I urge all parties to recommit to and fully respect the terms and conditions of the Cessation of Hostilities, which will include a complete halt to ground and air military activities and allow the increased flow of humanitarian assistance. I call on all sides to resume working through the De-Escalation and Coordination Committee to facilitate the strengthening of the Cessation of Hostilities. Only a negotiated political settlement can put an end to the devastation and injustice brought about by the war. The Yemeni people have suffered for far too long and their leaders should commit to restore peace and security to their country without further delay.
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Despite conflict and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian conditions, more than 100,000 people have so far this year risked their lives on the high seas to reach Yemen from the Horn of Africa by boat. This underscores the need for urgent support in countries of origin and transit to discourage people from attempting this deadly crossing.
A total 105,971 people have made the journey as of mid-November, mainly across the Gulf of Aden, according to latest figures from UNHCR and partners. Most people came from Ethiopia and Somalia (88,667 and 17,293 respectively). This year’s crossings compare to 92,446 to Yemen recorded last year and just 25,898 in 2006, despite heightened conflict and insecurity in Yemen in the past two years.
Most migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from Ethiopia and Somalia embark from the coastal towns of Obock in Djibouti and Bossaso in Puntland, Somalia and cross the Red Sea or Gulf of Aden to Yemen. Many of those making the crossing may be deceived or ill-informed about the severity of the conflict in Yemen or hope to reach the Gulf States, rather than stay in poverty or face persecution and insecurity at home.
UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies have been warning against the perilous Horn of Africa crossings which see people undergo risky journeys only to face conflict, abuse and exploitation on arrival. UNHCR has received reports of physical and sexual abuse, deprivation of food and water, abduction, extortion, torture and forced labour by smugglers and criminal networks as well as arbitrary arrest, detention and deportation.
Prolonged conflict and insecurity has also facilitated the proliferation of trafficking and extortion networks targeting new arrivals. Women and children are also at particular risk of sexual violence and trafficking. So far this year, at least 79 people attempting the crossing to Yemen have been reported dead or missing at sea.
For new arrivals seeking international protection, access to asylum systems in Yemen is restricted and individuals may be unable to register their asylum applications or have their presence documented by the authorities in-the country.
Yemen has historically been a country of migration and transit from the Horn of Africa to the Arabian Peninsula and beyond. Mixed migration movements into Yemen include refugees, asylum seekers, trafficked persons and migrants who either intend to transit and continue their journey to the Gulf States or seek asylum in Yemen, escaping persecution or conflict.
A few people also have also reportedly said they intend to reach Europe as their final destination, departing from Yemen to Sudan, then onwards by road to Libya or Egypt to cross by sea to Europe.
Twenty months into the conflict, the situation in Yemen remains highly precarious, with new arrivals and locals alike facing risks of hardship, danger and death. The conflict has resulted in mass displacement of more than 3.1 million individuals, 2.1 million of whom still remain displaced. More than 80 per cent of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance. All this makes Yemen ill-equipped to receive and host new refugees and migrants or those seeking to transit.
Because of this, in December, UNHCR intends to launch a regional information campaign in countries of origin and transit, including Ethiopia and Somalia, warning of the dangers and risks inherent in crossings to and arrival in Yemen.
UNHCR is appealing for more urgent regional support to address conditions prompting movements from countries of origin and to actively pursue solutions for refugees in Yemen. UNHCR’s operations in Yemen and the Horn of Africa remain critically underfunded. Despite massive humanitarian needs and ongoing displacement, UNHCR’s response to the situation in Yemen and neighbouring countries for 2016 remains only 44 per cent funded (US$75 million).
Somalia: IOM Trains Puntland Immigration Officers on Human Trafficking, Humanitarian Border Management
Somalia - IOM last week trained 13 immigration officers from Bossaso seaport in Puntland, Somalia, on tackling human trafficking and humanitarian border management (HBM).
The training, which was funded by Japan, focused on registration of arrivals without formal travel or identification documents, data entry and reporting, data protection, principles of human rights law and the detection of trafficking in persons.
HBM is a concept developed by IOM as a response to migration crises that push large numbers of migrants across borders. Along Somalia’s Gulf of Aden coastline, an increasing number of undocumented migrants arrive at ports of entry as part of mixed migration flows. They include refugees and returnees from Yemen, and deportees from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The training aimed to equip Bossaso frontline immigration officers with the skills to better respond to vulnerable migrants arriving at the seaport by raising their awareness of trafficking in persons and international human rights law.
The officers were trained on how to detect, interview and refer cases of human trafficking and smuggling to the appropriate authorities. They also gained skills in how to handle arrivals and implement the basic protection-based principles of international human rights law.
The training also provided them with the skills to efficiently register all migrants, and in particular undocumented migrants, using IOM’s Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS).
STATE DEPARTMENT — U.S. officials on Monday expressed disappointment with a move by Iran-supported rebels in Yemen to form a new "national salvation government" in that impoverished country.
"We are concerned by reports that the Houthi faction and the General Party Congress element aligned with former President [Ali Abdullah] Saleh have claimed to announce a new cabinet unilaterally, without an official foundation and without the support of the legitimate government of Yemen or the Yemeni peace process," State Department spokesman John Kirby told VOA. "This development contravenes the commitments provided by the Houthis and the GPC element to support the U.N.-facilitated peace process."
Formation of the 35-minister government, based in Sana’a, was necessary because of Yemen's "internal situation and confronting the [Saudi] aggression," according to the Houthi-controlled Saba news agency.
The Houthis' move, however, is "not conducive to achieving a lasting and comprehensive settlement to the conflict in Yemen, which will require political negotiation and consensus among all parties," Kirby added.
The move comes less than two weeks after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he extracted a pledge from Houthi leaders, during a secret meeting in Muscat, for them to form a unity government with their foes.
The U.N.-led plan also called for the Houthis to pull out of the main cities and hand over their heavy weapons. But exiled Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, whose government is based in Aden, rejected the deal that would have him handing power to a less divisive deputy, although Western diplomats said Saudi pressure is being applied to get him on board.
The Houthi move shows "a disregard not just for the Yemeni people but also for the international community," said Rajeh Badi, a spokesman for the exiled government of Yemen's president. "Over a year and a half since the Houthi militia's coup, no one in the international community has recognized the entities they have formed."
‘Blow to U.N.'
Hadi, pushed into exile in Saudi Arabia, remains the internationally recognized president of Yemen and enjoys the critical support of the Saudis, who lead a coalition that has conducted thousands of airstrikes against the Houthis.
But the Houthis, throughout 20 months of warfare, have taken control of enough of Yemen to account for more than half of the population of the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country.
While the formation of the new government "is a blow to the U.N. process, it does not necessarily mean an end to negotiations over the future of Yemen. The Houthis understand that control of the capital and other key areas provides the group with an important bargaining chip," said Alexander Corbeil, lead analyst for the Ottawa-based SecDev think tank.
"The declaration is, in part, a response to Hadi's rejection of the agreement and meant to put more pressure on international, regional and local actors to bring about a solution to the crisis and thus, eventually, enhanced Houthi involvement in the country's political and security affairs," Corbeil told VOA News on Monday.
The decision by the Houthis and Saleh is "a natural step" in the wake of the failure of the Hadi government, despite its Saudi and U.N. support, according Sheila Carapico, professor of political science and international studies at the University of Richmond.
Deadly strikes continue
A 48-hour cease-fire in Yemen expired one week ago.
A coalition strike on Saturday near the Shi'ite-held western port city of Hodeida killed 13 civilians, including women and children, according to security and medical officials there.
More than 10,000 people have died since March 2015, according to U.N. agencies.
The Gulf states accuse Iran of backing the Shi'ite Houthis, and there are accusations that the Iranians have increased transfers of missiles and other weapons to the rebels in recent months.
"There has yet to be any evidence presented to the public of Iranian weapons going to the Houthis," Carapico told VOA. "But Iran undeniably is cheering for them."
One thing is certain: The conflict has created a humanitarian disaster, displacing several million people and pushing Yemen to the brink of famine. U.N. agencies also are warning of the risk of a cholera outbreak.
A naval blockade, set up under U.N. Resolution 2216, which is intended to block arms getting to the rebels, also has choked the supply of critically needed relief for sick and wounded civilians, according to Carapico.
This opinion piece was written by ICRC's Rima Kamal and originally published in SBS Australia.
When I first started my career as a humanitarian working in war zones, I figured it would only be a matter of time before I became thick-skinned in the face of human suffering. In my line of work, death and destruction is all around, and misery is in the air we breathe.
After many years in the field, I’m still waiting to become immune to the horrors.
My home for the past year has been Yemen, a desperately poor country bordering the much larger Saudi Arabia to the north, and Oman to the east.
In this troubled nation, armed conflict has been raging for more than 18 months. Three million people have lost their homes, while 7000 have died and countless others have been injured, maimed and psychologically scarred. No family has been untouched by the fighting. And yet, against a backdrop of a Middle East region marked by violence, the global community appears indifferent to the crisis unfolding in Yemen.
Most of us don’t have the time or the energy to stand back and take stock of the real people behind the death tolls.
What little news we do hear of the situation focuses on statistics and death tolls, far removed from the very real and raw anguish of the people who have been left broken by this war.
People such as Saddam - a middle-aged widower I met earlier this year whose experiences characterize the largely untold story of Yemeni suffering.
This ruthless conflict has visited upon Saddam trauma that has changed his life forever. During recent fighting in his home town of Taiz, Saddam’s house was shelled while he and his family were sheltering inside. His wife and only daughter were severely injured in the bombardment and, unable to escape, forced to endure a slow and painful death. Saddam had desperately wanted to take them to the hospital, but he would have had to carry them on a donkey amidst sniper bullets and shelling. And so he waited for a lull in the combat. A lull that, heartbreakingly, came too late.
A year earlier, Saddam lost his job as a janitor at one of the leading schools in the city, after it was forced to close its doors due to the fighting. With employment opportunities close to zero, he soon found himself roaming the streets to put food on the table. “Yes, I have become a beggar,” he told me defiantly. “I roam the streets together with my sons begging for money, and looking for food leftovers; sometimes in garbage containers.
“This conflict has taken everything away from us. I have lost everything, my dignity included. There is nothing left of who I used to be.”
We can’t afford to become immune to human suffering.
Saddam’s experiences are, unfortunately, not exceptional. Thousands of Yemenis have similar painful stories to tell. But their desperation has been overlooked by a global community that is seemingly overwhelmed and fatigued by news of conflict and disaster. Most of us don’t have the time or the energy to stand back and take stock of the real people behind the death tolls.
Nonetheless, Saddam’s story deserves to be told. He has a right to be heard. It is not the numbers that pull us in, it is the people.
Currently, Yemen is a nation of shattered men and women. Families torn apart. Children bereft of their right to go to school. Young boys and girls who are bearing testimony to atrocities far bigger and heavier than their young souls can bear.
As humanitarians, we do our best to respond to the needs wrought by the conflict, but only global interest and political will to resolve the fighting can help bring an end to the despair of the Yemenis.
We can’t afford to become immune to human suffering.
It is not only weapons that kill. Indifference can be just as deadly.
Rima Kamal is the Communication Co-ordinator and Spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Yemen.
The Arabian Peninsula conflict has continued despite several U.N.-backed ceasefires
DUBAI, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Yemen's armed Houthi movement and its political allies formed a new government on Monday, the Houthi-run state news agency Saba reported, in what appeared a blow to U.N.-backed efforts to end 20 months of war in the country.
Read more on the Thomson Reuters Foundation
An estimated 18.8 million people in Yemen need some kind of humanitarian or protection assistance, including 10.3 million who are in acute need. Escalating conflict since March 2015 has created a vast protection crisis in which millions face risks to their safety and basic rights, and are struggling to survive. 2017 priority needs estimates are about 10 per cent lower than last year. This decrease reflects better data collection only, and can in no way be interpreted as an “improvement” in Yemen’s catastrophic humanitarian situation.
• As of 24 November 2016, 103 cases of cholera have been confirmed in 31 districts with 8 cases of deaths from cholera.
• A total of 6121 of suspected cases are reported in 86 districts.
• During the week 18 to 24 November 13 new confirmed cases and 1,295 suspected cases were reported.
• Incidence rate is 3 cases per 10,000.
• Case fatality rate (CFR) for the cholera associated deaths is 1.2 %,
• WHO and partners established and supported 26 Cholera Treatment Centers in 24 districts.
As of 24 November 2016, a total of 103 cases have been confirmed by laboratory testing in 31 districts from 12 governorates out of the total 495 samples tested (Table 4). Additionally 6,018 suspected cases(excluding the confirmed cases) reported in 86 districts. The cases are reported from Abyan, Aden, Al-Bayda, Al-Dhale'e, Amanat Al Asimah, Al Hudaydah, Amran, Hajjah, Ibb, Lahj, Sana’a, and Taiz governorates. Cumulatively, 8 cholera confirmed deaths have been reported from Aden, Hajjah, Sana’a, Ibb and Amran. A total of 76 cholera associated deaths (including the confirmed and suspected cases) were reported as of 24 November, so the case fatality rate (CFR) for the cholera associated deaths is 1.2%.
Health authorities in Yemen confirmed a cholera outbreak on 6 October 2016, posing an increased health risk to the population especially children. The Ministry of Public Health and Population (MoPHP) announced that a total of 11 out of 25 suspected diarrhea cases have been confirmed as Cholera cases in the capital, Sana’a.As of 30 October 2016, a total of 1410 suspected cases of cholera, including 45 associated deaths have been reported. Laboratoryconfirmed cases of cholera have been reported from Taiz, Aden, Lahj, Al‐Hudaydah, Hajjah, Sana'a, Al‐Baida and and Ibb governorates.(WHO, 30 OCt 2016) Economy and public sector‐ There are reports that some sections of the public sector have beenpaid; however, they have only received a proportion of previous month’s overdue payments. As a result, government services have slowed or come to a complete stop. The political rancor over the location of the Central Bank of Yemen (in either Aden or Sana’a) remains a highly contentious issue. As ERC Stephen O’Brien noted, Yemen is “one step away from famine”.