News / Middle East

Aid Programs In Northern Yemen Under Threat

International donors fail to respond to $16 million UNHCR appeal; refugee agency says conflict-ridden country on razor's edge

About 200,000 people have fled the war in northern Yemen since fighting first broke out in 2004, most are women and children
About 200,000 people have fled the war in northern Yemen since fighting first broke out in 2004, most are women and children
Lisa Schlein

The United Nations refugee agency warns it may be forced to suspend or reduce assistance programs to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people in conflict-ridden northern Yemen in the next couple of months for lack of money.  A senior UNHCR official, who has just returned from the region, says the agency's multi-million dollar appeal has fallen on deaf ears.

The UN refugee official describes Yemen as a tinderbox ready to explode.  The UNHCR's bureau director for Middle East and North Africa, Radhouane Nouicer, says he took stock of the multiple threats facing the country during his recent visit.

He says the government is faced with a rebellion in the north and a separatist movement in the south.  He says there are active pockets of terrorists scattered throughout the country.

In addition, he says declining oil resources have put the country into a precarious economic situation.

The UNHCR cares for more than 170,000 refugees, mainly from Somalia.  Despite the declining economic situation and growth of xenophobia, Nouicer says Yemeni officials have assured him the government remains committed to the protection of the refugees.

However, the situation in the north is more difficult.  The war between the al-Houthi militants and government has displaced about one-quarter of a million people.

Nouicer says only 30,000 of the homeless live in camps.  The others are living with host families because land for campsites is very scarce.

"In Amran, for example, it is now months that we have been trying with the support of the local authorities and the central government to rent a piece of land where we can establish a camp.  It has not been possible.  Many families that have been provided with tents by UNHCR could not even find 10 square meters to erect their tents.  The tribal situation is extremely tense and clearly many of the people in that governorate do not wish to have these IDPs [internally displaced persons] among them for a long period of time," Nouicer said.

A February 11 ceasefire agreed upon between the al-Houthi militants and the government appears to be holding.  But Nouicer says it is premature for the displaced to return home.  He says all basic services have collapsed and the ground must first be cleared of landmines.

He says operations to ensure the daily survival of the displaced and eventually help them return home are expensive to run.  Unfortunately, he says the UNHCR has not received a single penny from international donors for the $16 million it needs this year.

"We have borrowed money from our operation reserve in order to cover the gap.  But, we cannot continue to borrow money if there is no international response, or at least pledges towards this problem.  At some stage, we might need to suspend our activities in Yemen or at least reduce some of the programs that we are undertaking," Nouicer said.

The UNHCR official says he is puzzled as to why the international community is not supporting its humanitarian operations.  He says Yemen clearly is of strategic and political importance to many powers around the world and it is in their interest to ensure the stability of the country.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid