Yemen Crisis: A Human Rights Violation

Human rights are the basic rights and freedom that belong to every person in the world, from birth to death. They are the rights inherent to all human beings irrespective of their place of birth, caste, colour etc. Generally, the state is the real guardian of human rights and is responsible for any violation of human rights.

Currently, Yemen, a country in the Middle East is suffering from the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The crisis here in Yemen is largely man-made. The situation there is worse and people are starved, and parties to the conflict are using starvation as a tool of war. Around 60,000 deaths have been reported since the start of the war. The country has become the living hell for the locals.

Introduction

While Yemen is considered a Gulf region, it shares neither the authoritarian stability nor the prosperity characteristic of its neighbours. The nation remains comparatively poor regardless of its oil exports and has undergone a variety of political shifts since the North and South achieved independence in 1962 and 1967, respectively. Since the end of the civil war in the 1990s, Yemen has been largely under the rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Yemen’s civil war started in 2014 when Houthi insurgents rose against the Sunni government and took control of Yemen’s capital Sana’a. Yemen was riddled with years of chaos, poor governance, lack of rule of law, underdevelopment, degradation in the environment and widespread poverty. When the decision could not be made between the government and the demanding party, the rebels responded by seizing the presidential palace leading the president Mansour Hadi and his government resign. Hadi rescinded his resignation and the war has continued since. (global conflict tracker, n.d.)

Before 2015, almost half of all Yemenis lived below the poverty line, two-thirds of youths were unemployed, and social services were on the verge of collapse. Civilians across the country are suffering from a shortage of social services, a spiralling economic crisis, and fragmented government, health, education, and justice systems. It is estimated that on average almost 600 to 700 structures have been damaged and destroyed per month. Meanwhile, the fighting continues to inflict a heavy toll on Yemeni people, making Yemen the worst humanitarian situation in the region. The UN estimates that the toll of civilian casualties exceeded 15,000 who were killed or injured. Twenty-two million Yemenis remain in need of help, eight million are at risk of starvation and more than one million people have been affected by a cholera outbreak. (CJPME, n.d.)Years of intense conflict have brought Yemen to the brink of collapse, with over 80% of the population in need of humanitarian assistance.

The exploitation of women’s right

Women in Yemen face serious legal and practical discrimination. Violence against women has increased in Yemen — an estimated 3 million women and girls were at risk of violence by 2018, the UN estimates. Forced marriage rates have increased including child marriage. 

Yemen does not have a minimum marriage age. They can not get married without their male guardian ‘s permission and have no equal rights. To top it all while Yemenis are considered to be well educated, 70% of the males are literate but unfortunately, only about 30% of the women have access to basic education.

Exploitation against children

A child dies every 12 minutes in Yemen. (Aljazeera, n.d.)

Five years of relentless war has left a mark on the children of Yemen. More than 10 million children don’t have adequate access to healthcare. And two million children are out of school, at risk of exploitation and abuse. The need to stop the war on children has never been as urgent as it is at this moment. Houthi forces and other armed groups use child soldiers. These groups use children for their benefits and neglect their rights.

On the brink of Famine

Yemen used to import 90% of its food supply but now due to civil war, the imports have been interrupted and its seaports have been closed, and goods and services cannot get in. People are not able to get their hands on the necessities and some who are financially sound can get their hands by paying a huge amount. The food available is too expensive for families to purchase. Since the war has started, many have lost their jobs and there are very people who manage to live their normal lives. Malnutrition is already rampant. People are dying of starvation and almost 14 million people sleep hungry every day. It’s a hard reality that they eat turn by turn and have divided their time to eat. According to the report by news.un.org, 10 million Yemenis are one step away from Famine. Famine in Yemen could become one of the worst in living memory, UN says. (BBC, n.d.)

The collapse of the economy

Yemenis are struggling to survive. People are dying, they are fighting for their lives, the economy is not a matter of far and wide. The sustainability of bare minimal resources available to them in present tops their priority list rather than feeding themselves today. Even for those who are getting salaries, feeding themselves and their families is a big challenge for them. Many public sector workers have not been paid for months or even years. There were millions left without incomes. The economy has gone brutally down amidst all the crisis. Despite all the rich oil fields, Yemen is finding it difficult to feed millions. Let alone the all-time low currency value of Yemeni Rial which equates to 0.30 Indian rupees. The Yemeni government is finding it difficult to pay millions of its workers while on the other hand about one-sixth of the population is unemployed. The war alone has cost about 89 dollars billion to the economy. 

Conclusion

Yemen today is not only dealing with the Al-Qaeda threats, but Houthi also led Rebellion, a successionist movement in the south, economic problems and to cap it all off severe water shortage. Apart from all these problems, population growth in Yemen is yet another major aspect which should be taken into account. Population in Yemen is growing at about 3.5% a year. According to the CIA factbook, it is the 4th fastest growing country in terms of population with 7 lakh new Yemenis every year in a country of 24 million.

The United Nation says that Yemen is one of the greatest preventable disasters but because of lack of efforts from the side of government, and excessive intervention from the outside has led to a humanitarian and civil right crisis in the country. The author personally believes that Saudi Arabia can play a crucial role by helping and solving most of the problem Yemen is facing today. The easiest way it can help the Yemenis is by opening up the labour force again. Although this would pose security problems otherwise it seems very difficult for Yemen to get through these problems alone. A lot of NGOs and international organizations have contributed their lot to help Yemenis in this difficult time.  

Bibliography

(n.d.). Retrieved from global conflict tracker: https://www.cfr.org/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/war-yemen

(n.d.). Retrieved from CJPME: https://www.cjpme.org/fs_193

(n.d.). Retrieved from BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34011187

(n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nrc.no/perspectives/2019/why-yemen-is-the-worlds-worst-humanitarian-crisis/

(n.d.). Retrieved from Aljazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2019/04/resolve-conflict-yemen-190424193423672.html

Satyam Batra from Institute of law, Nirma University

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