Why Yemen needs peace!
Yemen is a country with a nation of 30.5 million people (52% are under poverty line) living the worst and largest humanitarian crisis ever.
Still the world doesn't seem to care enough to stop a brutal conflict that is not yet receding from piling up the civilian casualties which is not easy to track but some organizations have estimated that to be more than 70.000 civilians or more than 233 thousand people including civilians and combatants. Out of those 30.5 million people, there are 24.1 million in need of humanitarian assisstance where 14.3 million are in dire and severe need to save their lives. 20.1 million people are food insecure and there are 9.9 million of them are just one step away of a famine that's looming in the near future of 230 districts out of the 333 Yemeni districts.
All that suffering is not caused by a natural disaster or an unintentional fault, but it's deliberately triggered by a man-made disaster that's driven by greed and lust after power and fueld by blood and civilians' toll. The humanitarian cost is already unbelievably heavy but still all belligerents are saving no efforts to make it more severe! It's impossible to draw an image of the dire humanitarian conditions in Yemen but a quick snapshot might bring you to the terrifying life of Yemenis.
landmines are the "invisible death" in Yemen. There are 30 different types of anti-personal and anti-vehicle landmines used in Yemen. Prior to the current conflict, there was around 350.000 square kilometers classified as hazardous areas which were suspected to be planted by anti-personal and anti-vehicle landmines and explosives, that's around 63% of the Yemeni land. Around 635.562 landmines are still in Yemen where a Saudi-led project stated that they have dismantled 74.910 landmines during the last year. Till today, there is no accurate figure on the landmines casualties in Yemen but some organizations have estimated that to be more than one thousand civilians killed and other 11 thousands maimed or injured by landmines.
The displacement movement is increasing day by day. So far, there are 4.3 million people who have been forced to flee their homes and to seek shelter and safety in other safe zones. 1.4 million people of them have been lucky enough to return to their partially destroyed houses but the other 3 million are still seeking refuge with around 30% of them staying in public institutions such as mosques, hospitals and schools or in IDPs spontaneous gatherings or under trees in the open air.
5 million children used to attend schools in Yemen but now 4.7 million children need assisstance to access their right to education, and 2 million children of them are out of school due to lack of financial resources or lack of education service and facilities. The education infrastructure is severely affected by the war; around 11000 schools have been affected where 174 schools were totally destroyed, 611 schools were partially destroyed, 260 schools are occupied by IDPs, and 56 schools are occupied by armed groups. In addition to all that, there is only 270 thousand school teachers in Yemen, of which almost half of them are not regularly receiving their salaries since October 2016. Children now became more vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups where more than 3000 children were recruited and some of them were at the age of only 10 years and 83% of them are between the age of 15 and 17 years.
The health sector is already of a poor quality in Yemen before this current conflict started. After the conflict escalated in mid 2014, it has deteriorated further and left 19.7 million people in need of healthcare. 51% of the hospitals were not physically affected by the conflict but they are functioning with severe shortage of medicine and staff, 35% of the hospitals are partially functioning and 14% have shut down. Yemen is witnessing outbreaks of many diseases such as Dengue (32.264 suspected cases and 56 deaths), Diphtheria (3648 suspected cases and 210 deaths) and Cholera with the world's fastest record ever (1.789.833 suspected cases and 3519 deaths). Beside children and pregnant women who are the most vulnerable groups in conflict zones, there are other vulnerable groups in such deteriorating health conditions, those groups are the people with disabilities (3 million people) and cancer patients (3500 patients) and dialysis patients (5200 patients).
An estimated 7.4 million people are in need of nutrition assistance in Yemen, of whom 3.2 million people are in need of treatment for acute malnutrition, including 2.1 million children under the age of 5 years and including 1.1 million pregnant and lactating women. A total of 2.4 million of pregnant and lactating women and caretakers of children aged 0-23 months will require infant and young child feeding counselling.
Are five years not enough to prove to those belligerents and their international backers that engaging in a war to save lives is like raping a girl just to keep her virgin? Is that not enough to showcase the brutality of dealing with the humanitarian toll as a bilateral damage? Is that not enough to drag the attention of the global community to realize why Yemen needs peace?
Saif Al-Haddi is a Yemeni Freelancer Researcher and Consultant (expert in Yemeni political and humanitarian context)