Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Role of International Humanitarian Organizations in Yemen Put to Question | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A ship is docked at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen, March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad

London- Humanitarian questions arose on Hodeidah not receiving any aid, despite it being closest to a main seaport. On the contrary, images capturing the situation there continued to spread showing dire cases of famine.

“We have told them (aid agencies) that you cannot play the role of the government, and the months went by and the issue became clear,” said Al-Bara Sheiban, a Yemeni political researcher who says the UN organizations working in Yemen have tried to play a bigger role, believing they will be able to cover the role of the government.

Sheiban, like many other analysts, doubts the effectiveness of the role played by the UN organizations in Yemen. There are two billion dollars, according to a press release issued by Yemeni Information Minister Muammar al-Iryani, spent on humanitarian aid, but with no evident results.

Any aid effort pales in comparison to documented field scenes released showing Yemenis in suffering.

Asharq Al-Awsat spoke to analysts about the role of humanitarian organizations in Yemen and sent questions to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“It must be recognized that most organizations have formed their political identity during the Cold War, so their approach is based on the use of their political relations with the international community,” said Abdullah al-Junaid, a Bahraini political writer.

“In Yemen, aid organizations pressure the Yemeni constitutionally-elected government through continued targeting of its regional backers, namely Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as media campaigns in the United States and the United Kingdom are being carried out with preconceptions about what Saudi Arabia and the UAE are doing in Yemen,” said al-Junaid.

“Relief and rights international organizations seemingly operate according to criteria that are important human rights, but the propaganda establishment obscures the reality of these organizations and influences the reality of their interests.”