…As if the Horsemen Never Left
The UN reported that 10 million Yemenis are vulnerable to famine, while 80% of the population of 29 million people require humanitarian aid. Likewise, some three million people have been thrown into disarray, hundreds have died from Cholera, and two million children under five-years-old have severe malnutrition. Roughly 300,000 pregnant mothers and children under five have been denied access from nutritional supplements for over 6 months.
Yemen is currently in a state of civil war. The conflict rages between the Houthi rebels and Saudi-UAE coalition armed forces, and has its roots in the Arab Spring uprising’s failure to bring stability to Yemen. In 2014, the Houthi revolutionaries seized control of Sana’a – Yemen’s capital, forcing its post-Arab Spring leader, then-President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, into exile.
Alarmed by the rise of a group they believed to be backed militarily by regional Shia power Iran, the coalition forces emerged with the aim of reinstating Hadi as President to curb Iranian influence in Yemen.
The Ongoing Humanitarian Crisis
Delivering humanitarian aid to innocent civilians has proven to be difficult. According to aid officials, Houthi forces have blocked half of the UN’s aid delivery programmes in Yemen. This is because the Houthis have made access to areas under their control contingent on a flurry of conditions, which aid agencies have rejected on grounds of humanitarian principles – that they remain impartial and not empower any side of a conflict.
The Houthis have also hindered UN efforts to tighten monitoring of some $370m a year that its agencies already gave Houthi-controlled government institutions. That money was supposed to pay salaries and other administration costs, but more than a third of the money spent last year was not audited.
This leaves donors in a conundrum: Help the Yemenis and unaccounted funds may fuel the war. Prevent misuse of funds and the Yemenis may slip into famine.
The World Food Programme is currently considering cutting back the monthly food aid it delivers to 12 million Yemenis every other month. “It’s unfortunate that people will suffer but this is on the Houthis,” a UN official said.