Yemen’s Civil War Continues for the Eighth Year

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An refugee in Yemen sits in rubble (Image Credit: UNDP)

In a world riddled with wars and political turmoil, millions of people are forced to flee their homes in search of safety and protection, giving rise to the term “refugees.” Yemen, a country grappling with internal challenges and humanitarian crises, finds itself hosting over 280,000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from Somalia and Ethiopia. However, the country’s capacity to support these individuals has been severely strained due to the ongoing civil war, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, famine, and lack of sanitary resources. The situation calls for urgent attention and support from international humanitarian organizations like the UNHCR and IOM. Furthermore, millions of Yemeni citizens have also been internally displaced, adding to the severity of the crisis. The impact on refugees, children, and civilians has been immeasurable, and the international community is considering a wide variety of solutions.

Yemen remains embroiled in an eight-year-long civil war, pitting the internationally recognized government, supported by a Saudi-led military coalition, against Houthi rebels backed by Iran. The consequences of this conflict have been devastating, leaving over 11 million children in dire need of humanitarian assistance. The country’s socioeconomic systems teeter on the brink of collapse, and the humanitarian crisis has created a perfect storm for communicable disease outbreaks. Cholera, measles, diphtheria, and other preventable diseases continue to pose a grave threat to the population. Children and women, in particular, are vulnerable to exploitation, violence, abuse, child labor, child marriage, and other psychosocial distresses, exacerbating the already grave situation.

Yemen hosts over 280,000 refugees and asylum seekers, primarily from Somalia and Ethiopia. Many of these individuals are in the midst of a journey through Yemen to reach Gulf countries in search of better lives and opportunities. However, they often become trapped in Yemen due to the ongoing crisis. The living conditions for these refugees have been appalling, with limited access to food, healthcare, education, and legal documentation. The scarcity of resources and capacity to support refugees has been further affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and a regional famine, raising concerns for their safety and well-being. While it isn’t a straightforward operation,  humanitarian organizations such as UNHCR, IOM, and various UN agencies are needed to provide medical assistance in the region.

The Yemeni crisis has also led to the displacement of 4.5 million Yemenis, representing 14 percent of the population. Some were forced to flee the country, while others were relocated within Yemen, embroiling Yemen in one of the world’s largest internal displacement crisis. These internally displaced individuals face similar challenges to refugees, including safety concerns, lack of access to survival necessities , and legal documentation issues. The prolonged conflict has disrupted access to education and healthcare, leaving more than 2.7 million children out of school. The ongoing war, coupled with the devastation from the COVID-19 pandemic, has pushed millions to the brink of famine, with tens of thousands living in famine-like conditions.

The severity of the Yemeni crisis calls for immediate action to alleviate the suffering of refugees, those internally displaced Yemenis, and civilians. The international community must focus on promoting peace negotiations to end the civil war, thereby protecting refugees in camps and facilitating safe migration routes. Humanitarian organizations, such as UN peacekeepers, can play a vital role in safeguarding refugees and combating the criminal activities of smugglers. In addition, concerted efforts should be made to collect and reunite data on the atrocities faced by refugees, addressing their mental and physical health traumas. Implementing initiatives that foster understanding and tolerance among host communities towards refugees can help also raise awareness about their challenges and build empathy.

Written by Imane Moumen

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