Friday, June 24, 2011

Yemen's Worst Humanitarian Crisis Ever

Yemen has been suffering since the beginning of the revolution which started more than four months ago. Protesters have been shot at constantly by security forces, republican guards and by Saleh's militia dressed in civilian clothes. A massacre after another happened with scores of deaths and injuries. On Friday March 18th, 57 people were killed in Change square in Sanaa after Friday prayer and in May 29th 52 were killed in Taiz when the Republican Guards attacked Freedom square just before dawn and burnt down the sit-in tents to the ground. According to human rights groups and medics, more than 350 people have been killed in the government crackdown since the revolution started.

Three cities in Abyan province have fallen to militants, as Saleh had constantly threatened, or perhaps one should say "promised". Militants launched surprise attacks on the cities, seizing entire neighbourhoods with "minimal resistance" and have been engaging in gunfights with government forces ever since. More than 200 people have been killed in the ongoing clashes. Medical officials at Razi Hospital in Abyan say that half of the dead were civilians. Ali Hashem, a medic at Razi Hospital, said "the government is killing residents and then they announce they killed militants. Most of those admitted to the hospital were not fighters". Besides that Abyan has been subject to US drone attacks shelling and destroying houses and killing more people as part of US's never ending war on al Qaeda, all of which forced more than 30,000 inhabitants to flee to schools in Aden creating a refugee crisis situation. While Libya and Syria have refugees across their borders, Yemen has refugees within it's borders. This month, according to the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) 100,000 estimated Yemenis were displaced from Abyan.

"Mid march tribesmen are said to have "blown up a major oil pipeline feeding crude to Yemen's main oil refinery in the southern city of Aden, causing severe fuel shortages, straining electricity output and reducing water supplies. Government officials said the pipeline bombing had also disrupted the export of some 120,000 barrels of oil per day from the country's central Mareb province, a key source of foreign currency. They estimated around $1 billion has been lost in the three months since the blast. Yemen loses around $10 million daily due to the production and export stoppage since mid-March". 
Cities in Yemen, beside the capital Sanaa have been suffering from difficult living conditions, due to constant and long hours of power outage, fuel crisis and shortage in water and food. Up to 15 death cases were reported in Hodeida last week in hospitals due to electricity cuts, including 4 newborns in incubators and 7 dialysis patients. The power outage is effecting the water supply which in turn affected farming, exports, production and the economy as a whole. Power outage also affected students who are trying to study for their final exams amidst all this chaos and have only candle light to help them. The fuels crisis has been paralyzing movement in the cities and ambulances from reaching patients amongst other things, while queues for refueling have been up to 3 km long and a waiting period extending 10-15 hours sometimes days. This video shows the length of a queue in the capital Sanaa.

Gian Carlo Cirri of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) says that "Yemen is undergoing its worst humanitarian crisis ever." Cirri, who directs WFP's Yemen mission, says "I cannot recall a time when hardship has been greater in recent Yemeni history." WFP reports there has been "a 39 percent increase in the price of wheat over just five months. Food prices are skyrocketing in Yemen".
What is happening in Yemen is a humanitarian crisis on multi levels and the world seems to be focusing on the 200-300 Qaeda militants in Yemen and ignoring the misery of the millions of people who are sufferings. The international community needs to step up it efforts and provide Yemen with humanitarian aid. This is what Yemen needs the most, not interference in it's internal politics.

Further readings:

Yemen Undergoing Its Worst Humanitarian Crisis Ever

1 comment:

  1. ".....They estimated around $1 billion has been lost in the three months since the blast..."

    And how much has been lost, on a daily basis, through the qat-chewing habit? Saleh did virtually nothing for yr country, but Yemenis have a lot to answer for themselves.

    Don't misread me. I have been to Yemen. Been made PNG by the Saleh government, but it remains one of my own personal favourite countries among the many I've visited. This includes no less than 35 other countries in the Muslim world.

    However one could see the writing on the wall. Months ago, on my own blog, I wrote of the problems between an embedded rock (Saleh) and the danger posed by AQAP.

    Among others, my views were seen by some young Yemenis as `barking up the wrong tree`. But now look at the suffering - the shortages of fuel, bread and even qat. I wonder?

    I pray for you is all I can say and I follow your posts both here and on Twitter. Yemen's Last Dance
    posted December 2009.