Al Qaeda, war, hunger, and poverty. Can you imagine all of these threats converging on a nation at the same time? This is exactly what is happening to Yemen in the Middle East.
The Al Qaeda terrorist network has made Yemen a primary base. If they are not stopped, there is fear they could gain strength enough to launch more attacks against the West. Secretary of State Clinton said of the U.S. and Yemen, “We face a common threat from those violent extremists who target civilians without mercy or remorse.”
The U.S. sent military aid to help Yemen combat Al Qaeda, but the country is weakened by even greater threats within its borders.
Around 300,000 Yemenis have been displaced by the conflict in the North between the government and rebels. A ceasefire in the “Sa’ada War” was declared in February, but there have been outbreaks of new fighting, threatening hopes of a lasting peace.
The longer peace remains elusive, the more suffering Yemenis will have to endure. Their lives, the development of their country, will have to wait.
This tragic suffering of the innocent in war is a theme shared throughout the ages. You could even go back to a time in U.S. history where civilians along the U.S. and Canadian border suffered destruction and displacement from war. They relished the day when the weapons of war would disappear from their region. Yemenis wait for such a day.
In Yemen, even those not in the northern conflict zone have another enemy to face. Hunger and poverty grip the whole country. Low funding for the World Food Programme has forced the suspension of aid programs, including Food for Education, and shortages mean ration cuts for victims of the Sa’ada conflict.
No strategy for helping Yemen is complete unless it includes a roadmap to end hunger and poverty. It has to start by restoring food aid programs to stabilize the situation.
Then a foundation for long-term solutions can move forward, including Food for Work projects to build infrastructure, Food for Education for all children, universal infant feeding, and building agricultural production. The government of Yemen and the international community need to work together on these projects to restore the basics of food, water, shelter, and medical care, all of which are in short supply.
These basics of life also represent hope for the Yemenis, as they face such massive challenges.