There is a War in Yemen. And a Child Dies Every Ten Minutes

New York, 5 May 2017

“On average, a child under the age of five dies of preventable causes in Yemen every 10 minutes. This means 50 children in Yemen will die during today’s conference, and all of those deaths could have been prevented.” Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations at the Geneva Conference about the situation in Yemen.

After this sentence, nothing else would have to be said. However, information on the real situation in Yemen are scarce and uncommon – therefore, the public opinion is less informed about the issue. But it should be, because a child dies every ten minutes, because of several agencies – like the United Nations ones – report over 7,800 victims and more than 3 million displaced people, and because there is a humanitarian crisis that affects more than the 70% of Yemenis.

The Yemen Civil War began in 2015 when two factions claiming to establish the legitimate Yemen government. The Huthi forces control the Sana’a capital and in 2015, they clashed with loyal forces at the government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi based in Aden. Nowadays, the civil war is still in place and the peace process is far from finding a solution that would end the conflict and restore the situation of deprivation, food crisis and, more in general, of humanitarian emergency in which the population is forced to live. The Yemenite complex emergency is human-made and has deteriorated since the hostilities have escalated in March 2015.

yemen GLOBAL RISK INSIGHTS.jpgPhoto Credits: Global Risk Insights

On April 25th, the United Nations, together with Switzerland and Sweden, recalled the international community on the serious condition that is affecting Yemen and its population. In Geneva, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, stressed the importance to raise the awareness of what is going on in the country and, mostly, the urgent necessity to raise money in order to address the humanitarian emergency.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), Yemen is affected by the larger humanitarian crisis in the entire world. $2.1 billion US Dollars are required to fund the delivery of crucial food, nutrition, health and other lifesaving assistance. During the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen, donors raised $1.1 billion US Dollars in order to face the emergency. However, they are not enough – how could they be enough when more than 17 million people are currently in a situation of food insecurity and 6.8 million of them are severely food insecure?

According to the Washington Post, the UNICEF’s Director for the Mideast and North Africa, Geert Cappelaere, said that the situation in Yemen is catastrophic and that “There is no single country in the world where, today, children are more suffering than in Yemen”. In fact, if we look at the dashboard of the Child Protection Sub-Cluster – Yemen, 1,540 children have been affected by injuries directly related to the conflict.

RELIEFWEB INFOGRAPHIC“Yemen: Child Protection Sub Cluster-Child Protection Dashboard – On Needs, Response and Gaps – Firs Quarter 2017″ – excerpt from ReliefWeb – Infographic

The 38% of Yemeni refugees that are actually in Djibouti are children – according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). For them, as well as for their parents, living in Djibouti is quite expensive, mostly because they lost any kind of resource in Yemen, therefore affording the every-day expenses is becoming more and more difficult. Additionally, the refugees’ camps of Obock and Markazi are situated in areas in which the cost of living is higher than other parts of Djibouti.

The situation in Somalia is even worse. In fact, the country is affected by internal tensions and a continuous escalation of violence. Somalis refugees were escaping the country and flooding into the Yemen territory. Now, not only the Somalis in Yemen are coming back to Somalia, but also Yemenis are going there, fueling an already delicate situation. Moreover, the only refugees’ camp in Yemen, the Kharaz camp, is under precarious conditions and is populated by Somalis recognized as refugees by the Yemen government.

The Spokesperson of the Sanaa Office of the UNHCR, told the journalists of Al Jazeera “[People that are fleeing into Yemen] are aware there is a conflict, but I just don’t think they know how bad it is, Yemen is a very generous country and people have traditionally sought protection here”. Basically, Yemen has been always considered a safe haven for people escaping from Africa; in 2016, according to the UNHCR more than 270,000 asylum seekers and refugees in Yemen were coming from African countries.

Moreover, there is another problem represented by the Yemenis that are internally displaced. Displaced people are now trying to get out the country and flooding in Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti and, of course, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

dash“Regional Refugee and Migrant Response – Population movement out of Yemen (as of 31 March 2017)” – from ReliefWeb – Infographic

At this moment, the future of Yemen, in particular of Yemenis, is uncertain: even if the international community is working hard to cope the complex humanitarian emergency, the peace process seems to be swinging: moments of recovery are often followed by moments of stalled. The population is forced to an economic, health and social deprivation; vulnerable categories, including children, are forced to a situation of suffering and uncertainty.

Sara Belligoni

Featured Image Credits: RT Questiones