Humanitarian aid to Yemen suspended amid security concerns

A man begs for assistance on a street in Sanaa. Many aid organisations are suspending their financial support in Yemen because of security concerns. [Khaled Abdullah Ali Al Mahdi/Reuters]

A man begs for assistance on a street in Sanaa. Many aid organisations are suspending their financial support in Yemen because of security concerns. [Khaled Abdullah Ali Al Mahdi/Reuters]

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Yemeni officials and international organisations have recently called for a resumption of humanitarian aid that has declined in recent months, warning that economic and humanitarian conditions are continuing to deteriorate since the country's political crisis began in February.

The United Nations IRIN News agency said in a report published in October that Yemen is receiving less aid from humanitarian agencies. The report cited several reasons, including concern among donors that the government would exercise control over the funds through a patronage system that would allow it to interfere with many projects.

In 2009, Yemen received about $513 million in overall aid, with $75 million of that amount directed to humanitarian aid, according to the Global Humanitarian Assistance Initiative. In 2010, the UN launched the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan, with revised requirements of $186.1 million.

Oxfam International published a report in September warning about the spread of hunger and chronic malnutrition in Yemen.

"The political stalemate has caused several donors to suspend aid to Yemen. This is a most crucial period for the country, therefore politics and security should not govern the aid strategies for Yemen," Oxfam's report stated.

Earlier this year the Netherlands withheld assistance it intended to provide to Yemen's government in protest against human rights violations during political demonstrations. The World Bank also announced in August that it suspended its $500 million aid programme because of concerns about security and governance.

Political stalemate worries donors

Dr. Mutahar al-Abbasi, acting minister of planning and international co-operation in the caretaker government, told Al-Shorfa the political crisis has affected all development programmes funded by the government and international projects funded by donors.

"The suspension of those projects has had a major impact on sectors such as water, education, and health," he said. "We urge private donors who suspended their support to Yemen to restore funds that were specifically allocated to development projects in those sectors that directly affect citizens."

Al-Abbasi said several international organisations are continuing to operate in Yemen and fund projects including UNICEF and the World Health Organisation. He called on all organisations that suspended aid to reconsider their positions.

"Suspension of aid does not serve developmental and humanitarian efforts, and it does not meet the humanitarian needs which should not be tied to political issues," al-Abbasi said.

Resumption of aid dependent on security situation

Dr. Hassan Farhan, a professor of economics at the University of Sanaa, told Al-Shorfa the resumption of international aid to Yemen is dependent upon the security situation in areas where the agencies operate.

Farhan said violence is limited to specific areas such as Taiz province in the south and Arhab and Nahm, north of Sanaa, which are sites of confrontations between the government and demonstrators. Abyan province is another unstable area because of armed clashes between the Yemeni army and al-Qaeda forces that have caused the displacement of over 100,000 people.

"Organisations that operate outside areas where armed conflicts and military confrontations are taking place should return in order to support development," he said. "The humanitarian situation has deteriorated significantly in Yemen. The poverty rate has risen from 35% before the crisis to 55%, according to international estimates. The unemployment rate has also risen from 18% before the crisis to 35%, according to government estimates."

Farhan underscored the need to address the political issues that are harming the economy. He said that even when the situation is resolved, Yemen will need a massive funding programme in 2012 to restore development projects and rebuild infrastructure to redress the effects of the crisis.

Ali al-Wafi, an economist, said the suspension of aid is "justified and expected because it is difficult to implement the procedures required for such projects during the current crisis."

"The worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen is not limited to suspension of aid from abroad. Government spending on aid programmes has also ceased. Addressing the political situation is the only way to remedy the humanitarian and the economic situation and permit a resumption of international aid to Yemen," he said.

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    غريب

    2011-12-14

    I hope that the situation will become stable in Yemen as soon as possible. We also hope to witness the return of these international organizations to work once again in Yemen. Indeed, Yemen has suffered enough loss of life and enough financial and moral losses that it has witnessed since the start of demonstrations. Also, Yemen has witnessed a halt in life, instability and the emergence of al-Qaeda in the country. The latter has started to develop, taking advantage of the financial situation in Yemen. Therefore, everyone must sit around, discuss in a civilized way and reveal the problems in public, given that the latter will have a considerable impact if such problems and the unstable security situation continue.

  • انور عبدالله

    2011-12-14

    International organizations have played an important role in Yemen through providing continuous support to the Yemeni people and government, in terms of caring for the poor and following up on the orphans, etc. In fact, they have been carrying out a continuous work, thanks to the presence of their members in their offices, which have been open to the public and to the follow-up on a lot of issues. In addition, they have helped Yemen solve some of the crises and catastrophes which may face the country. Unfortunately, however, because of what happened to Yemen and the lack of a stable security situation in the country, these organizations have been obliged to leave, fearing for the lives of their employees there. This has affected them a lot, because the halt of the work of such organizations has contributed to increasing the suffering of Yemenis. In fact, these international organizations were providing continuous services for all the needy countries in order to rescue their people and provide continuous aid. Indeed, everyone knows that Yemen is a poor country in which there are a lot of poor and unemployed people. In addition, it needs the presence of such international organizations on its territories.

  • مفبد حسين

    2011-12-1

    Yemen is one of the countries which have been pulled into the abyss. In fact, it is currently working on restoring life in the country but in vain because Ali Abdullah Saleh is surrounding this country from all sides. Indeed, both he, terrorism and terrorists are working on carrying murder acts. In addition, International Organizations have suspended their aids to Yemen because of the current difficult conditions which are caused by instability. In fact, the security situation is very difficult because murder acts have spread everywhere from both Saleh and al-Qaeda’s groups.

  • هاشم

    2011-11-27

    We pray to God to calm down the situation and to grant us an atmosphere void of any violence or terrorism, because the work of the international organizations has been stopped as a result of the disturbances which take place and the chaos and destruction which the Yemeni arena is witnessing, especially because the work of the organizations is humanitarian and has contributed to helping many people. But what is going on was the reason behind the abstention of the organizations from providing support; it may be a result of preventing the government for their existence and maybe the reason is the fact that the terrorist al-Qaeda organization is threatening them and that the situation has caused a lot of terror for many of them. This has resulted in stopping their work fearing for many of those who work in this field, as they are affiliated to a special authority, and they are against the other authority. Therefore, we hope that the situation in Yemen will be better than it is now, and everyone can return to the stability of Yemen, so as to avoid more disturbances, chaos and destruction and more killing and the shedding of a lot of innocent blood, which is guilty of nothing. Thus, we pray to God to stabilize the situation in all the Arab countries, which are witnessing disturbances, chaos and worry as a result of the people’s rejection of their governments, which use violence, cruelty, dictatorship and suppression against them. Also, we should not forget the al-Qaeda organization groups’ exploitation of the situation in such conditions, as they spread very quickly so as to control the regions which suffer from disturbances, worry and instability, and also the existence of the cases of severe poverty, as well as the unemployment, hunger, displacement, need and deprivation.

  • صاير عيسى

    2011-11-27

    One of the negative effects which led to harming and damaging the Yemeni citizen is that the humanitarian organizations have stopped their work as a result of the circumstances, crises, disturbances and huge chaos inside the Yemeni arena. This is the first and the major reason for life stopping in Yemen, and it has also contributed to causing the security situation to deteriorate and the lack of stability in the political situation in the country. Therefore, the supporting international organizations had a very great role in helping many of the citizens in Yemen, after the chaos and disturbance which affected the security and political situation. The Yemeni people are now in dire need of a lot of help and assistance provided by the organizations, including the provision of assistance and supplies which support many of the poor Yemeni families that suffer from unemployment, hunger, deprivation and the insecure and unstable situation. One of the effects is that many of the Yemeni families will be exposed to a lot of harm, and they will be cheated by the terrorist groups, which will exploit them through providing them money in order to carry out what they are asked to do in terms of terrorist operations against the Yemeni people. Therefore, I pray to God to stabilize the situation in Yemen and to help the Yemeni people live in security and stability and to enhance the situation to be better than it is now. I pray to God to protect the people from any harm or damage as a result of the terrorist operations or all the acts which could lead to their pain.

  • شريف حسن

    2011-11-23

    Why is there all this chaos, backwardness, violence, killing and dictatorship against the Yemeni people? Why don’t they find peaceful and quick solutions in order to provide services for the Yemeni Arab citizens? Why don’t they serve the interests of the people without intolerance, injustice, oppression and criminality? In fact, Yemenis deserve all the best, because they have been patient for a long time. Besides, they have endured suffering and injustice. Thus, it is high time to achieve a radical change in order to avoid bad repercussions.