Despite the large presence of United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations in Yemen, the humanitarian situation in Yemen remains in a state of deterioration. A recent UN report indicates that the fragility of the situation has continued due to extreme poverty, rising living costs and a lack of jobs, which in turn affect food security and livelihoods of millions of Yemenis.
United Nations warned that the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen may lead to the destabilization of the country, noting that half of the Yemeni population need humanitarian aid.
Thousands of displaced people have returned to their homes, and they are in a real need of support to help them rebuild their lives. Moreover, the return of thousands of Yemenis working in Saudi Arabia to Yemen and the immigrants from the Horn of Africa, all create threats and challenges of the humanitarian situation in Yemen.
In a humanitarian media workshop for Yemeni journalists organized by UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs-humanitarian communication network and UN information center, Ms. Jane Ambakia, director of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Yemen (OCHA), said that the events of 2011 are not the main cause of the current deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Yemen.
Ambakia noted that extreme poverty, the lack of basic services, the non-interference for the government to reduce the poverty, the scarcity of government investment, the mismanagement of economic resources and the various conflicts around Yemen are the main reason to make 14 million Yemeni in need of humanitarian assistance. “The events of 2011 have increased the difficult situation in Yemen but it was not a major cause of it.”
In spite of the humanitarian aid provided to Yemen in 2012, the humanitarian situation didn’t change, Ambakia confirmed. She said that one of the UN strategy priorities for the coming year is to sustain the lives of IDP, refugees and people returning from Saudi Arabia.
“We want to help them with interventions, keep them alive; and we will look specifically at the humanitarian needs and protections for displaced people, refugees and vulnerable people as well as women and children,” Ambakia added.
In his part, Mr. Johnson Trend, Head of Office, OCHA Yemen, called on belligerents in Damaj to provide safe routes for access by humanitarian organizations to children and defenseless people in order to help them to reduce their suffering.
“For reasons related to the security situation and accessibility, the current humanitarian response plan cannot reach more than five million targeted people,” Trend said.
In his visit to Sa’ada, The Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Mr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that his visit came as armed conflict in northern Yemen, particularly in Damaj and Kitaf, entered its sixth week. He said that there has only been limited access that enabled the evacuation of some 126 war-wounded people for treatment, but many more people are in urgent need of immediate humanitarian assistance.
“I am alarmed that humanitarian workers cannot reach thousands of civilians in Damaj and Kitaf who are in need of urgent assistance,” Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed said. “During my visit to Sa’ada, I urged all parties to this conflict to allow humanitarian workers to reach those affected by conflict. I also urged all parties to observe their duty to protect civilians.”
On the other hand, Peter Rice, coordinator of the International NGO Forum in Yemen, pointed that the number of international NGOs operating in Yemen increased that the number reached to 51 organizations in 2013 as the number was 25 in 2007 and 36 during in 2011. He said that these organizations work in Yemen either directly or through partners in all Yemeni provinces.
“We have a close relationship with the Yemeni communities and we support them in some humanitarian sectors, such as education, early recovery, sanitation, water, health and elections,” Rice said.
He added that 40% of the international NGOs budgets are delivered through partners in the local organizations and 60% implemented by NGOs directly. He said that the total cost of projects amount to 200 million U.S. dollars, and it is generally divided as follows: 58% of the donors from outside the Gulf states, 9% from the Special Fund of the Organization, 8% from institutions and private companies, 4% public institutions, 9% multiple institutions and 9% from other sources.
According to Rice, NGOs employed 1,265 employees of the Yemeni cadres, making up 90% of its employees.
“The Yemeni government should not rely on international NGOs, and it must provide services to its people because they will not last long at work in Yemen beyond the emergency period,” he stated.
In the workshop organized by OCHA, 30 journalists from different media institutions received different exercises on writing humanitarian reports, their importance and the challenges facing humanitarian reporting in Yemen. The session also covered media ethics in writing reports and partnership-building with the media.