Humanitarian Situation in South Yemen
On behalf of the Southern Transitional Council (STC), I write to you with great urgency on the dire situation in South Yemen, where civilians have suffered since the war in 1994 of marginalisation and mismanagement by the central government. As you work to secure the 2019 UN Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen, including through the upcoming High-Level Pledging Conference convened by Secretary-General Guterres, we urge you to give special attention to the needs of Southerners and to take measures to address our marginalisation.
The impact of the catastrophic humanitarian situation across the country is particularly felt in South Yemen. In addition to the risk of famine – with thousands resorting to tree leaves for sustenance – widespread disease, inflation and unpaid salaries, Southerners face unprecedented economic hardship as the Yemeni currency collapses and prices soar. This only exacerbates the disenfranchisement of our people who have regularly taken to the streets to protest their conditions. We know this is an issue that exercises the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and we commend your regular and, crucially, frank briefings on the situation on the ground. We now look to you to intensify your efforts in South Yemen, which have been kept at a disadvantage.
For our part, as the STC, we have welcomed the efforts of UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to revive the Yemeni political process and are committed to working with his team to support the UN-led consultations. While we are encouraged by any efforts to end this brutal conflict, including the agreement reached in Stockholm last month, we are fully aware of the challenges in securing credible implementation of any agreement. Alleviating the suffering of our people and advocating for their rights are our principal objectives. This is why we stand ready to play our role to enable the success of any political effort towards that end.
Equally important to our efforts at the political level, are our efforts on the ground. We recognise the various risks to unhindered and timely humanitarian access across Yemen, including but not limited to aid diversion. In this regard, we further support your efforts to ensure strong independent monitoring mechanisms to limit aid diversion and attempts of diversion. It is unconscionable that corruption and political agendas are allowed to undermine humanitarian aid and relief, and we want to stress our readiness to support OCHA’s work on the ground. We hope you will look to our teams in Aden and across South Yemen as partners in facilitating your humanitarian efforts.
Therefore, we specifically urge you to:
- Address the marginalisation of the South, including through specific funding for governorates in South Yemen in the third High-Level Pledging Event for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen;
- Hold the signatories of the Stockholm Agreement to account by pushing for urgent implementation of the deal, including on prisoner exchange. Progress should not be limited to Hodeidah and greater parallel effort should be exhausted for tens of thousands of arbitrarily detained civilians across Yemen;
- Redouble efforts to deliver much-needed aid to South Yemen and across Yemen, including facilitating access through Aden and other ports.
You have rightly stated to the UN Security Council that millions of Yemenis are hungrier, sicker, and more vulnerable than they were a year ago. We must also remember that the crisis we are living today is an extension of large-scale humanitarian suffering resulting from Yemeni unification in 1990, which has worsened since the 2011 political crisis. We now have an opportunity to change course and set our country on a better path, so we must ensure that the outcome of the political process is truly viable and sustainable. Only an inclusive political process that fully integrates credible voices – including the legitimate demands and needs of the South – can achieve that. We ask for your vocal support for such a process, and effective action to tackle the political causes of this man-made crisis, and to protect all the people in Yemen and end their suffering.
Ahmed Omar Bin Fareed
Southern Transitional Council