RED ALERTYemen declares a national emergency situation [Archives:2007/1057/Front Page]

June 7 2007

Yemen called on international humanitarian organizations to mitigate the crises in Sa'ada after more than four and a half months of continuous war and the dislocation of more than 25 thousand people.

SANA'A, June 6 ) The government of Yemen has sent official requests to international relief agencies to step and mitigate the dire consequences of the on-going war in Sa'ada. Sources in the presidential office and Members of Parliaments, who requested to remain anonymous, expressed their deep concern that there is a state of emergency in the country and that the government requires immediate assistance to control the consequences of the conflict in Sa'ada.

Yemen Times local source in the troubled governorate confirmed the spread of epidemics and the non-existence of medical treatment or even basic sanitarian requirements for local citizens. “You either flee or die, if not from the violent clashes then from diseases or lack of food,” he said.

According to WFP, the organsiation has committed to mitigating the disaster and providing food and shelter to the thousands of Yemenis who fled the war zone. “Many families left their homes carrying only a few of their stuff and camped in remote areas outside the governorate,” said Mohammed Kohen WFP country representative.

The assistance from the WFP alone reaches 443 thousand dollars. Other relief agencies also rushed to provide aid, such as Islamic Relief, which declared more than 680 tons of foodstuffs would be distributed during this month to cover the needs of 5000 fleeing families temporarily.

However, despite the elevation of the crises because of the formal plea forwarded by the government to international relief agencies, there are still many obstacles against the disaster mitigation and transportation of food, and medical equipments and medicines. Moreover, according to a joint UN agencies commission that was dispatched to review the situation in Sa'ada, the number of the dislocated people, which has exceeded 25,000 individuals, is bound to increase significantly once mobility and transportation constraints are lifted.

These constraints imposed by the Yemeni security forces have banned aid from reaching the areas in conflict.

Together against the war campaign

Consequently, officials from the World Bank assembled with a delegation from the Joint Meeting Parties – Yemeni political opposition parties – and urged them to intervene with the Yemeni authority and allow humanitarian relief agencies to work in Sa'ada. A delegation from the European Union has also met with Yaseen Said Noman head of the supreme council of the JMP in order to discuss the current situation.

Hassan Mohammad Zaid, general secretary of the conservative opposition Al-Haq political party commented on this, during the launch of the national campaign “Together against the war” last Monday. “Yemeni authorities are adamant not to allow any relief or rescue take place unless through it,” he said.

Human rights advocates, lawyers, and political activists, launched the campaign at the Sisters Arab Forum premises in order to pressurize the state and international agencies to stop the war.

A press statement issued by the participants stated that the war has been blown out of proportion, and local citizens as well as tribal men have been forced into the battlefield without actually being part of the conflict.

In the campaign's launching event Abdulbari Taher a prominent Yemeni writer and politician said that this is a repetition of the civil war in 1994, and the ruling party does not learn from its mistakes.

The assembled participants called on the Parliament and media to join the campaign and call for an end to the war, which has been going on and off since 2004.