The Arab Renaissance Bows to The Conflict in Yemen
While enjoying a considerable natural reserve of copper, nickel, lead, gold, marble, rock salt, and petroleum, Yemen persists as the poorest country in the Arab World, it ison the brink of famine,and continues to register the foremost devastating records of cholera outbreak. The escalation of conflict in Yemen over the last two years has already left two and a half million people displaced, (approximately 10% of the population, lack access to basic services, and approximately 5,000 new cases reported daily that continue to suffer from the cholera epidemic according to UNHCR’s latest report. The widespread malnutrition in Yemen has effectively increased the vulnerability of those infected with the disease, and has thus becomelife threatening.
On the Fragile States Index 2017, Yemen ranks No. 4 on the very high alert fragile countries. In its 2016 report launched in March 2017, the Human Development Index Yemen ranks 168 of countries of low human development with a significant decrease from 2015. The United Nation has described Yemen as “The largest humanitarian crisis in the world."
Yemen’s Conflict Victims
Civilians are, and continue to be the overwhelming victims of Yemen’s conflict. Aid agencies are rendered incapable of distributing aid amidst the ongoing violence and destruction in the country. A double victimization is therefore unfolding; that of society’s most vulnerable segments, and the generational consequences from the tremendous loss of life that will precipitate future inequity in the region. Yemen’s crippling humanitarian disaster points to an undeniable pattern in which major actors, regional and international, continue to ignore non-zero sum alternatives to resolving entrenched grievances.
The Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) fully recognizes the complexities and dynamics of the seemingly endless conflict in Yemen, and the MENA region as a whole. Pursuant to its inherent context-driven rights based approach to addressing regional challenges, ARDD urges partnership with “all of society” and “all of government.”
Rights of the Yemeni people need to be preserved not out of goodwill of the different actors, but as rights they are fully entitled to have at all times and that are non-negotiable. Restoring the rights of the Yemeni people must be part of any effort that seeks to create an open platform for gathering all sides to address and resolve grievances. This includes building a framework based upon respect for human rights and basic dignities, the right to life and freedom to pursue legal economic opportunities, the acknowledgement of the inviolability of national sovereignty, all with the serious underlying considerations for the national security concerns of neighbor states.
ARDD further stresses that deliberations cannot, and must not take lightly the lethal implications such violence and structural upheavals have on innocent civilians, including the poorest and most vulnerable communities, which depend on critical infrastructure, government services, and aid facilities.
ARDD believes Yemen can become a model post-conflict state. Given the existing under-developed and inadequate structures and systems already in place, the impoverished yet resource-rich country is arguably a blank slate. Existing opportunities in Yemen are obstructed by the conflict and its grave humanitarian ramifications but remain however, present.
Every strategy and plan that extends beyond civilian’s immediate emergency needs must take into account the ultimate objective of facilitating Yemen’s path to self-sufficiency. This is premised upon the indisputable right of Yemen’s citizens to be consulted and involved in the process; and where applicable, take the lead in developing the structures and systems necessary to move their country in the direction they see fit. Instilling hope and belief that they can and will make effectual change in line with their aspirations is a step towards the empowerment of the people of Yemen to reach their full potential. It can prove to be the right time to renewal and hope of humanitarian activism once described as the Arab Spring.