On this episode we discuss Yemen's dire humanitarian crisis with UNOCHA's Trond Jensen. We also get a rundown of key human rights issues from Belkis Wille, Yemen researcher for Human Rights Watch, and learn about an exciting experiment in local democracy taking place in al-Mahrah, Yemen's easternmost governorate.
UPDATE: The second segment of this episode, my interview with Belkis Wille of Human Rights Watch, includes a short discussion on the international community's repeated threats of sanctions against spoilers in Yemen. A few days after the episode aired, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution setting up a sanctions committee. Read about that here.
UNOCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) is responsible for coordinating international responses to humanitarian crises around the world. In Yemen, the office--headed by Trond Jensen--works to coordinate the efforts of more than 100 local and international NGOs to address Yemen's humanitarian crisis. Yemenis are suffering from food insecurity, lack of access to water, and severe poverty. In addition, several hundred thousand Yemenis have been displaced from their homes by conflict in the past decade. Our interview with Trond Jensen looks at the scope of the crisis, and challenges facing OCHA as it works to respond. You can find OCHA's website for Yemen here, with links to the recently-released Humanitarian Response Plan for 2014.
A few of the NGOs working in Yemen are listed below. While the international community will almost certainly fail to fully fund this year's Humanitarian Response Plan, you can do your part by donating to these organizations.
Human Rights Watch does an excellent job of tracking a number of important human rights issues in Yemen. Our interview with HRW researcher Belkis Wille covers President Hadi's failure to hold members of the former regime responsible for past abuses, the president's lack of control over the military, and the ongoing effort to raise the legal age for marriage and end child marriage in Yemen. You can also find Belkis Wille on Twitter. You can find all of HRW's reports on Yemen here.
Dr. Elisabeth Kendall is a senior research fellow at Pembroke College, Oxford. She spoke to us about her work on a groundbreaking public opinion survey recently undertaken in Yemen's easternmost governorate, al-Mahrah, and about the subsequent establishment of a new majlis, or representative council. This experiment in grass-roots democracy is particularly remarkable for the fact that al-Mahrah is extremely remote and sparsely populated. In 2011 the estimated population of the entire governorate was only 108,000. The new Mahri Majlis has a website, which is updated in Arabic and English, where you can find the Majlis code of conduct, and more information about how the council was formed.