Monday, April 25, 2016

Yemen's forgotten humanitarian crisis

An article by a research associate at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo Ontario, has alerted me to the forgotten war in Yemen. I kind of knew there was a civil war going on there between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the Shiite Houthi insurgents, but I had not realized just how bad the situation was.
Over the last year, the civil war has been responsible for some 6,500 deaths, about half of them civilians. But, according to the article - and I have no reason to doubt its credibility - more people in Yemen are in need of urgent humanitarian aid than in any other place in the world, including Syria, with an estimated 21 million (the vast majority of the country's population) at risk from famine. Nearly 180,000 have already fled the country, and some 2.8 million have been displaced from their homes. But water security and nutrition are the biggest issues: about 20 million people lack access to safe water and sanitation (bear in mind that the total population of the country is only 24 million), and some 14 million need food security.
The UN and international aid organizations are desperately calling for money and resources for Yemen, but the country's plight is being overshadowed by nearby Syria. Canada, for example, provided $15 million in humanitarian aid for Yemen in 2015, as compared to $173 million for Syria. Taking into account the relative populations at risk, this translates to about $0.71 for each needy Yemeni, and $13 for each needy Syrian.
Whatever one's stand on what is happening in Yemen and why, Canada can still take a leading role in drawing the world's attention to this hidden humanitarian crisis.

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