Yemen’s Humanitarian Nightmare

The Real Roots of the Conflict, by Asher Orkaby, for Foreign Affairs

On February 20, 2015, as the residents of Sanaa prepared for evening prayers, Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi put on a woman’s niqab and slipped out the back door of his official residence, where a car was waiting for him. For a month, Houthi rebels, who had taken Sanaa in late 2014, had been holding him under house arrest. By the time the guards noticed that he was gone, Hadi had reached the relative safety of the southern port of Aden. A month later, as Houthi forces advanced south, he fled again, this time to Riyadh, where he called on Saudi Arabia to intervene in Yemen’s civil war.

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Yemen: Is Peace Possible?

Report by CrisisGroup.org:

Nearly a year on, there is no end in sight to Yemen’s war. The conflict pits Ansar Allah (Huthi) rebels and military units allied with ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh against a diverse mix of opponents, including what remains of the government of President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, backed by a Saudi-led coalition supported by the U.S., the UK and France. Ending the war requires negotiations leading to an interim settlement that must include security arrangements providing for militia withdrawal from cities, a return to the political process pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and agreement on a transitional leadership. While these are matters for Yemeni parties to decide during UN-sponsored negotiations, Saudi Arabia’s buy-in will be essential, spooked as the kingdom is by what it perceives as an Iranian hand behind the Huthis and their attacks on Saudi territory. Reaching agreement will take time, a luxury Yemenis do not have. The immediate priority thus should be to secure agreement on delivering humanitarian aid and commercial goods to war-torn, besieged areas.

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(This report attempts to explain the reasons behind the Yemen conflict, the various parties involved, and suggested steps each of these parties should take to facilitate a negotiated peace settlement)

Yemen: the devastation of a nation, largely ignored

Article by Labour MP Stephen Twigg for theguardian

We are waiting to see when we will die” – the words of a resident of the besieged city of Taiz in Yemen, retold by a British Yemeni at a meeting with cross-party MPs in Westminster last week.

Taiz has been under siege by rebels for months, cut off from humanitarian aid, with no electricity, no schools, and where the vast majority of health facilities have closed.

Britain’s international development committee (IDC) had invited representatives of the Yemeni diaspora to contribute to our inquiry into the crisis in Yemen. We were shocked to hear about the desperate situation in Taiz, which bears a worrying resemblance to Madaya in Syria. But the world is watching Syria while the crisis in Yemen is largely ignored.

The crisis is having a devastating effect on the whole country. According to the UN (pdf), an astonishing 82% of the population needs humanitarian assistance - 21.2 million people, compared with 12.2 million in Syria. The food situation is particularly concerning, with 14.4 million people struggling to find enough to eat, including 1.3 million children who are acutely malnourished. Millions cannot access safe water or basic healthcare and 1.8 million children are out of school. The Yemeni diaspora described the situation as collective punishment, with the population being punished for the actions of the rebels.

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The Sad Decline of Yemen, the Best Country You'll Never Get to See

The Daily Beast article by Barry Pell:

I’ve been to more than 160 countries. None are more fascinating than Yemen, where violence is making its remarkable beauty and people undiscoverable.

As my plane descended into Yemen’s international airport and I had just finished reading the country’s English-language newspaper, I noticed a small article about a Dutch tourist who had recently been kidnapped by a hill tribe and released after two weeks of negotiations. Not great news, I thought. But reading further, the Dutchman declared that his captivity was wonderful, and the tribesmen treated him like an honored guest and showed him parts of the country he would have otherwise never seen. It was, he said, the best part of his trip.

This was 1998, and it was common for disenfranchised hill people to embarrass the central government by holding tourists and then bargain their release for needed investments like roads, schools, and hospitals. There was no intention to harm anyone.

Unfortunately, this tactic of nonviolent protest has, in many instances, been replaced by a much more virulent form of assault on Western tourists by hill tribes, motivated by extremist religious causes, political opposition, or foreign influences intent on destabilizing the government.

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Mapping Chaos in Yemen

Article by The New York Times

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Timeline: The rise of Yemen's Houthi rebels

Al-Jazeera publishes a timeline of the rise of Yemen's Houthi rebels. Read it here.