As Yemen officials are getting ready to attend the Friends of Yemen Conference in London (April 29, 2014) in order to discuss the impoverished nation’s financial and economic needs, Johannes van der Klaauw, UNHCR Yemen Representative and Humanitarian Coordinator was keen earlier this week to underscore the widening of Yemen’ social and humanitarian crisis.
While economists have said to be mildly optimistic in regards to Yemen’s economic recovery due to improving economic data and a net enhancement in the industry sector, the majority of Yemenis continue to live in abject poverty, literally tittering on the brink of complete destitution.
Klaauw estimated that Yemen will require an injection of “about $592 million (Dh2.17 billion) in emergency humanitarian fund” if it is to respond to its ongoing humanitarian crisis and curb the worrying trend.
“About 13 million Yemenis are unable to access clean and safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. Moreover, about 10 million Yemenis are unable to get enough food,” he told reporters earlier this week.
Two years in Yemen’s power transfer and officials’ promises that things will get noticeably better, no clear progress has been made on the humanitarian front; if anything things have evolved from difficult to dramatic. With over one million children said to be suffering from malnutrition in 2014 against the 900,000 reported by World Food Program in 2012, Yemen has yet to turn the tide when it comes to dealing with chronic hunger and looming famine.
Even though the UN has clearly increased its funding since last year by offering to care for 7.6 million people in 2014 as opposed to 5 million people in 2013, Yemen’s humanitarian deficit continues to widen as time passes by, putting a dangerous strain on society. Two years on and President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s warning in regards to the revolution of the hungry could very well come to pass, especially if the gap in between the haves and the haves not continue to grow out of balance.
Klaauw stressed that should officials fail to recognise the sheer gravity and scope of the country’s humanitarian crisis, “it would have negative impact in the government’s economical and developmental policies,” and thus prevent Yemen from truly moving on.
Probably more than ever before Yemen, the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula, needs an injection of cash which will allow its government to sustain its social and humanitarian programs, while promoting economic growth and political stability. In a few words Yemen requires to be rebuilt from the ground up, a project which while is bound to be costly will likely prove beneficial in the long run in terms of regional stability.
If Yemen’s humanitarian crisis has often been dissected in the media, to the point where Yemen has become synonymous with poverty and widespread hunger, a reality the international community has grown accustom to, it is important to remember that Yemen’ suffering is ever more poignant and real.
Human tragedy should never be dismissed on account that it has been told many times.
Chad Anderson, an Oxfam policy adviser based in Sana’a, the Yemeni capital, published an article in the Huffington Post UK earlier this week in which he describes in great details the hardship of one particular family from Hodeidah, one of Yemen’s poorest regions, bringing home the realities of a life spent in deprivation and indigence.
He wrote, “More than 4.5million people, like Hassan, will go to bed hungry tonight in Yemen. Hassan tells me that he cannot afford to eat dinner for at least three to four months out of the year.”
A family of farmer, Hassan and Fatima are like tens of thousands of Yemen unable to meet their most basic needs, let alone afford to keep their children in full-time education or provide adequate medical care.
Quoting Hassan, Anderson noted, “Last year our daughter became ill and I had to take her all the way to Hodeidah city for treatment. On the second day, we were told that the medical bill was more than $450 and I had no choice but to bring her home. She is still ill and in need of care."
13 millions of Yemenis are currently experiencing such difficulties. 13 million people are waiting for their officials to mobilize the world community’s attention and bring solace to an entire people.
As long as Yemenis will go to bed hungry, the nation’s future will remain murky.