The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released their most recent Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for Yemen last month. The document outlines the objectives OCHA hopes to achieve in the coming year, the number of people in need of assistance in Yemen, how many the organization will target for humanitarian assistance, and what resources are required to do so.
To set the stage, OCHA has outlined how the crisis in Yemen has impacted the country. Two years of civil war have left 18.8 million people in need of humanitarian aid, 10.3 million of whom are in acute need and require immediate, life-saving assistance. All parties to the conflict appear to have committed human rights violations, and the violence has resulted in approximately 48,000 casualties including nearly 7500 deaths, and over 3 million people displaced within the country.
Ongoing air strikes and fighting continue to inflict heavy casualties, damage public and private infrastructure, and impede delivery of humanitarian assistance. After nearly two years of war, parties to the conflict and their supporters have created a vast protection crisis in which millions of people face tremendous threats to their safety and well-being, and the most vulnerable struggle to survive.
"In order to respond to the massive amount of humanitarian assistance required by the Yemeni people, OCHA has set four primary strategic objectives within the Humanitarian Response Plan. These include the following: to save as many lives as possible, prioritizing those most vulnerable in Yemeni society, to integrate protection and gender-related concerns into the humanitarian response at all levels, to support the maintenance of basic services and institutions for Yemenis, and to improve the coordination, accountability and advocacy of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs."
Specifically, OCHA plans to address the requirements of the 10.3 million Yemenis in acute need as well as those in danger of falling into acute need in 2017. The total number of people that OCHA thus hopes to assist comes to 12 million. In order to realize these objectives, OCHA requires $2.1 billion in funding. They aim to take an integrated approach to their operations in 2017, focusing on protection, gender equality, population movements, accountability to local communities, cash-based assistance to speed up aid delivery, and links between relief, recovery and development. OCHA operations in 2017 will focus on several arenas: food security and agriculture, water, sanitation and hygiene, health, nutrition, shelter and camp coordination for the displaced, protection, education, emergency employment and community rehabilitation, logistics, emergency telecommunications, and coordination and safety.
In closing, the new HRP emphasizes the dire consequences if the international community fails to respond to the urgent needs of Yemenis. As has been widely reported in the last weeks, over 7 million people will be at risk of starvation, while over 8 million will not have access to clean drinking water or sanitation. Health services, already struggling, will quickly decline further, 1.2 million children will be at risk of starving to death, Yemeni civilians will lack support when faced with violations of their basic rights, and landmines will continue to contaminate residential areas and endanger innocent lives. The clear message is that Yemen cannot wait for the support of the international community and a peaceful resolution to the conflict.