Joint Press Statement from Islamic Relief Worldwide, The Humanitarian Forum, Yemen Relief and Development Forum and International Rescue Committee for the Friends of Yemen meeting September 2013

National Yemen

Members of Yemeni parliament photo from archive

As Yemen strives to recover from a severe humanitarian crisis, the country has entered a fragile period in which another shock could reverse the gains that have been made. The inception of the Executive Bureau for aid acceleration and key reforms have made tentative progress, but USD 5.8 billion of the USD 7.8 billion pledged to Yemen in 2012 is waiting to be disbursed. Donors and the government should accelerate disbursal with full transparency to ensure that Yemen returns stronger than before the humanitarian crisis.
Focus on underfunded sectors is required in order to address key deficits in humanitarian response. As of July 2013, the humanitarian community has received less than 20 per cent of the funding required to assist those in need of protection, education, water and sanitation. “Gaps in these sectors now could have severe implications for economy, health and human dignity in Yemen’s future,” said Nasr Muflahi,  IRC Country Director. 80 per cent of respondents to a survey of Yemeni civil society feel that there has not been an improvement in the humanitarian situation since the last Friends of Yemen.
All stakeholders in the region should work together to find solutions for the plight of migrant workers and for the prosecution of smuggling networks. Migrants from the Horn of Africa continue to arrive at the Yemeni borders and are routinely abused by smugglers and traffickers. In the Haradh area alone, there are about 25,000 destitute and stranded migrants in urgent need of shelter, food, water and healthcare.
10.5 million Yemenis are already struggling to get enough food to eat. Donors have started to provide much-needed support to building the resilience of Yemeni communities to future shocks. However, the return of hundreds of thousands of Yemeni migrant workers with limited job prospects threatens to plunge many households deeper into food insecurity. “Every effort must be made to meet the needs of returning Yemeni migrant workers and mitigate the broader impact of their return on the Yemeni economy,” said Dr Mohamed Ashmawey,  CEO IRW.
Structural adjustments to the Yemeni economy need to be carefully sequenced so that household incomes are not adversely affected. Economic reform is an important step towards improving the economic situation in the country, but should be achieved without undermining household budgets in the short term. Recent history shows that short-term economic shocks at the household can lead to increases in child labour, child marriage and incurrence of debt that can affect Yemen’s long-term development future. Only 12 per cent of Yemeni civil society respondents believe that the economic situation has improved since the last Friends of Yemen conference.
“Continued commitment to deepening the relationship between civil society and state at the local and national level is required so that Yemen can become a regional model for government-civil society collaboration,” said Dr Hany El-Banna,  President of THF. The steps taken towards a more consultative relationship between the Government of Yemen and civil society are welcome. However, 71 per cent of Yemeni civil society respondents remain entirely unfamiliar with a key process such as the Mutual Accountability Framework Process. In addition, 94 per cent of Yemeni civil society respondents state that they want to be consulted by the Friends of Yemen. Donors should continue to support efforts that increase partnership between civil society and the government, incorporating youth, women, marginalized groups and the Yemeni diaspora.