Yemen faces Houthi rebels in the north and secessionists in the south. They also are in an ongoing struggle with Islamic radicals as they try to retake territory captured while the government was in turmoil and facing a huge protest movement.
The conflict has displaced hundreds of thousands of people fleeing areas of conflict. The World Food Program (WFP)
estimates that there are 670,000 internally displaced persons who are dependent upon food aid. The conflict has devastated the economy.
There is chronic poverty and chronic malnutrition. Yemen has the second highest level of malnutrition in the world, which is caused not so much by lack of food but by the fact that millions cannot afford to buy it. There is very high unemployment as well in Yemen making the situation worse. Up to 90 per cent of food in the country is imported, resulting in high prices. The situation is particularly unfortunate for children. Gert Kapelari of UNICEF
:"About 250,000 children today in Yemen are at risk of dying or having lifelong consequences if we don't act immediately,"
The charity Oxfam claims that 44 per cent of Yemenis, almost ten million people, do not have enough to eat.
There have been moves to provide more aid. Two months ago Friends of Yemen donated 4 billion to help avert the crisis. Saudi Arabia was by far the largest donor.
Prince Saud al-Faisal the Saudi foreign minister said:
"To ensure Yemen's security and stability, the kingdom will provide $3.25 billion to support development projects there which will be agreed upon with the Yemeni side,"
The Saudis believe that there can be security in Yemen only if there is less hunger and more development and are willing to devote funds to help Yemen survive. While there is an immediate need for food aid this is clearly just a first step.
Emergency supplies, shelter, and health care are all needed for displaced persons and others. However this does not solve the problem of poverty.
As mentioned earlier, Malnourishment results
because people cannot afford food. They cannot afford food because they are impoverished and have no money. Yemen's troubles have caused falling oil revenues, acute water shortages, and economic stagnation. Two thirds of Yemenis are under 24. The unemployment rate is a staggering one third of the population.
Forty per cent of Yemenis live on less than 2 dollars a day. Children make up half of the population. Only half of the population is even literate. In such conditions it should hardly be surprising that many find solace in radical Islam.. Western policy especially U.S. policy seems to be to categorize all these groups as Al Qaeda and then spend billions on trying to simply wipe them out using superior military might. A much better investment would be to concentrate upon immediate humanitarian aid combined with long term development aid.