Yemenis displaced by the conflict, receive food aid and supplies to meet their basic needs, at a camp in Hays district in the war-ravaged western province of Hodeidah on March 29, 2022, as food prices have doubled since last year and the fact that Ukraine supplies nearly a third of Yemen s wheat imports has heightened fears of a deepening famine. (Photo by / AFP)
Making matters worse, the interest of international relief organisations in Yemen has dwindled in recent years as a result of global changes and shifting priorities.
As new data from the war-ravaged country indicates potentially record food insecurity, there arises the need to improve humanitarian relief channels to alleviate the Yemenis' suffering.
The internationally recognised government, supported by a Saudi-led military coalition, and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels have been locked in a violent power struggle since 2014, when the insurgents seized the capital Sanaa.
Yemen's war began in September 2014, when the Houthis swept into the capital, Sanaa, from their northwestern stronghold in the Arab world's poorest country. The Houthis then pushed into exile the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, elected in 2012 as the sole candidate after the long rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh.
A Saudi-led coalition, including the UAE, entered the war in March 2015 to restore Hadi's government.
Yemen's warring parties on Tuesday traded accusations of violating a two-month ceasefire agreement, three days after it went into effect at the start of Ramadan.
More than 17.4 million Yemenis are food insecure; an additional 1.6 million “are expected to fall into emergency levels of hunger” in the coming months, taking the total of those with emergency needs to 7.3 million people by the end of the year.
Highlighting the long-lasting, negative impact on children, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell warned that “more and more children” were “going to bed hungry” in Yemen.
“This puts them at increased risk of physical and cognitive impairment, and even death,” Russell added. “The plight of children in Yemen can no longer be overlooked. Lives are at stake.”
With the advent of Ramadan, the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) announced the launch of one of the largest relief and humanitarian operations in Yemen, covering roughly one-third of the country's population, to benefit seven million Yemenis in the governorates of Shabwa, Hadramout, Taiz, Hodeidah, and Socotra islands during Ramadan. This project instilled hope because it would reduce the level of rampant human suffering.
It has also drawn attention back to Yemen's human tragedy.
No international or regional relief organisation has ever organised such a large-scale relief effort in such a short period of time. Logically, it is difficult to provide aid to seven million people spread across vast and dispersed areas in highly complex geography in a short period of time. This task necessitates high-level coordination, careful execution, and a large number of relief workers to transport, unload, store, and distribute this aid to those in need, as well as conduct field surveys to track cases due for this aid during the initial phase.
The UAE has made significant contributions to reducing human suffering in Yemen since the conflict began in 2015. It took an active role in restoring public services, boosting quality of life and education, and maintaining infrastructure. It also launched humanitarian initiatives during Ramadan and on other occasions such as feasts in previous years.
This year it doubled the standard value of the level of support, indicating that it recognises the magnitude of the humanitarian need that necessitates such a large level of humanitarian intervention.
So far, the UAE has struck an unrivalled balance in humanitarian aid. Between April 2015 and February 2020, the total value of Emirati humanitarian aid to Yemen surpassed $23 billion for relief, health, and development projects. To this day, the UAE actively competes with other international relief organisations in relief and development tasks throughout Yemen.
The reality of human suffering in Yemen necessitates such humanitarian interventions. However, there is a "fatal" absence or "fragile" presence of international relief organisations whose role is insufficient to bridge the humanitarian gap in which 30 million Yemenis, the country's total population, are trapped, including approximately 23.7 million people in need of humanitarian aid, according to UN estimated s. According to these data for emergency and interim humanitarian interventions, the ERC remains the first and most generous donor to Yemen humanitarian relief efforts.