Political turmoil and economic underdevelopment tend to affect the most vulnerable most severely. Earlier this year, fairplanet.net reported on Afghanistan’s food problem and the looming threat of famine. Many of us remember the horrific images of the famine in Somalia and other parts of East Africa in 2011. Now it seems as if another country is in danger of being added to this list. In Yemen also, the most vulnerable are hit hardest. According to reports from Al Jazeera, one in three Yemeni children is “severely malnourished”. Approx. 10 million Yemenis, about 44 percent of the population, do not receive enough food, the report continues.
Listed as a “least developed country” by the United Nations, Yemen’s rather unstable condition was intensified by political events in 2011. Yemen is one of four countries in which Arab Spring related protests successfully ousted long-term rulers. Although former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s resignation and this year’s one candidate Presidential Elections were reason for muted celebration and optimism, an old and unfortunately rather familiar opponent stepped up his game: an attack by a suicide bomber in May 2012, killing more than 90 people, came as a harsh reminder of Yemen’s struggle against al-Qaida-affiliated Islamists. In fear of a renewed threat from global terrorism, the United States increased the number of controversial drone attacks, which often result in civilian casualties and further hinder everyday life in Yemen.
The political uncertainty during the Arab Spring, and the intensified terrorist threat posed by Islamists, proves detrimental for ordinary Yemeni citizens. The Guardian reports that hunger in Yemen has doubled since 2009. Seven humanitarian aid organisations, including Oxfam, Save the Children and Islamic Relief, have recently urged the international community to provide aid before the food crisis takes on “catastrophic proportions”.
The recent “Friends of Yemen” meeting in Saudi Arabia offered a gleam of hope, however. According to Al Jazeera, wealthy donor nations of which Saudi Arabia is a front runner, have committed $4bn in aid to Yemen. Additionally, the United Kingdom has pledged to contribute $44 million to the package. “We are confident that you realize the danger and sensitivity of the situation in Yemen which needs lots and lots to recover”, said Yemeni Prime Minister Mohammed Basindawa.