OP-ED

When crisis is…commonplace?

The true meaning of the word crisis has failed to find an appropriate application in contemporary Yemen’s multiple-crisis reality. An American friend recently told me that he continues to be confused by how the Yemeni public manages to negotiate the variety of crises encountered in daily life.
Crises happen – and they happen all over the world, whether natural, economic or as the result of conflict.
Crises are bad situations that can be identified as such for the purpose of enlisting government or public support to overcome extreme difficulties and prevent the worst from happening.
A Yemeni crisis is, apparently, the type that attracts a great deal of attention from only a few, often those who are suffering the most. Sa’ada and Abyan come to mind. Basic problems can tumble into states of crisis, and are often far too connected with political maneuverings and power attacks.
The Minister of Electricity’s recent statements were profoundly disappointing to a public that learned he no longer feels able to fix the electricity lines – at least, not unless the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of the Interior take up the job and protect the lines between Marib and Sana’a.
A further absence of common sense in the Yemeni scene: people are dying of hunger. Meanwhile, international organizations working in the fields of hunger and poverty prevention are sending warning cables out, about, and abroad. Yet we’re given little to no understanding of logistical realities; nor are any serious actions taken to inform the public about where the organizations’ help goes exactly.
Complaints ring out, suffering increases, and problems certainly end up worse than when they started.
Yemeni crises have come to look something like business ventures for civil society organizations (CSOs), who have as partners international NGOs.
A review of what has been given to displaced people all over the country from the government and international actors reveals that 85% of the total grant amounts have gone towards supervisors and logistical plans. And yes, 15% to the displaced.
The file of tears in Yemen will grow and continue to do so as long as crisis is closely connected with profit, prestige and career advancement. Odd as it may seem, it can bring to mind the former regime’s contorted dance with Al-Qaeda.
“More help is needed” would be the government’s call; unsurprisingly, the money that followed would never be enough. Meanwhile, zero results on the ground. With multiple crises at hand and thousands of lives in the balance, similar humanitarian shortcomings are not only wrong. They’re downright scary.