Political Analysis

Satellite Images Of Yemen Indicate Level Of Destruction And Implication For Recovery

National Yemen

The war in Yemen has generated a dire humanitarian situation with massive destruction to the country’s infrastructure. UNDP and the Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT)  of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), released satellite images illustrating damage and destruction to Sana’a, Aden and Sa’ada. According to initial detailed analysis of satellite imagery, as of May 10th in Aden, May 15 in Sana’a and May 17 in Sa’ada, at least 2323 building structures have been destroyed since the commencement of violence in March. Markets, buildings, roads and bridges along with private homes and businesses, public infrastructure and institutions have been completely or partially destroyed as a result of the fighting. The airports in Sana’a, Aden and Sa’ada as well as Aden’s main port have been particularly damaged. Additionally, a total of 22 medical facilities in Sana’a, Aden and Sa’ada were within a 100 meters radius of damaged or destroyed buildings, with the possibility of a more facilities sustaining damages as the violence continues. Images of visible lights at night over Western part of Yemen – taken on May 12 and compared to March 20, prior to the violence eruption – 25% less power usage.

Mr. Paolo Lembo, UN Resident Coordinator for Yemen, underlined UN’s deep concerns regarding the impact of the escalating conflict in Yemen. Mr. Lembo stressed that halting violence and a peaceful settlement to address the root-causes of conflict are essential to end Yemen’s recurrent fragility and put the country on a sustainable development track.

The current crisis in Yemen is not only a humanitarian crisis, but also a development crisis. Livelihood opportunities and economic activities have come to a standstill, often with irreversible losses, in a country that has been marked for long by deep poverty and inequality. Moreover, public institutions and civil services crucial for coping have severely deteriorated. Local communities are very consumed with coping with the hard reality of the conflict, leaving little space for community cohesion and deepening divide between them. Concerted action in support of development and community resilience is pivotal for the future of Yemen and the Yemeni people.

UNDP Yemen Country Director, Mikiko Tanaka, warns that “the massive destruction in Yemen, including socio-economic infrastructures and the impact t of the escalating conflict on livelihoods is already causing a grave consequences for short and long-term development in Yemen.” Rehabilitating family and community assets is a priority for early recovery. The emergency restoration and stabilization of livelihoods is needed to make local communities resilient to current and future shocks. Ms. Tanaka added that “if immediate and early recovery programing focusing on local ownership and capacity strengthening with interventions based on current realities is not rolled out, recovery will be fragile, reconstruction will be sluggish, and opportunities for effective development and growth will be squandered.”

Satellite images of the damage in Sana’a, Aden and Sa’ada indicate the level of needed reconstruction efforts in the country. In this context, UNDP is working on empowering communities by supporting and promoting early recovery to help Yeminis transition from humanitarian relief to self-sustainable development.