Monday, July 27, 2015

Stop the Catastrophe

Image: Ahmed Al-Kulebi
Ahmed Kulebi is a Human Rights Defender based out of Yemen. Working hard for the future of his country to see peace, Ahmed’s efforts have pivoted around working on the current conflict in Yemen. His story follows:

Yemen has been under attack since March 26, 2014 after Saudi Arabia led the Arab coalition against the Houthi’s movement and the National Army, who they are the leaders of the revolution against the government in exile in Riyadh. After the political dispute, unfortunately, the Saudi Arab coalition’s airstrikes have been targeting all the civilians of Yemen. Instead of a negotiation between political parties and finding political solutions, the use of force has caused dire consequences on ground. Most Yemeni infrastructure has been destroyed. Thousands of people have lost their lives, and most of them are innocent civilians. 

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been described as “catastrophic” by the UN, with 80% of the population in need of aid, as violence escalates every day.

The arms issue in Yemen is one of the major problems that has affected the development of Yemeni society for a long time. Naturally, Yemen as a tribal country and the armed tribes’ conflicts have contributed in assisting the spread and expansion of this problem from generation to generation. It also became an important element in Yemeni culture, traditionally being the symbol of manhood. Guns for men are seen “like gold for the ladies”. 

There are no real statistics about how many weapons exist in Yemen, but just at a rough estimate, I’d say that there are 60 million pieces, which means 3 pieces per person! That was before the current war, which is now worsening by the day. We are extremely worried about it. To witness Saudi Arabia contributing to this problem by dropping weapons by air to their allies across the country during the conflict, and to know that many people are getting weapons from the military places after being targeted by the Saudi air strikes is a very daunting thing.

The biggest challenge that my colleague and I am facing is in the form of insecurity and instability in the country. Our work has been affected by the current crisis so much. We used to work for resolve conflict and build peace but now all what the human beings in Yemen need is food, medical supplies and some secure. There are a lot of challenges for the Yemeni people. Without peace, tolerance, acceptable and respectful to other there is no hope for a good future for the people of Yemen at all

We are working hard to prevent gun deaths and injuries, and try to spread a culture of peace and tolerance in Yemen. We aim to combat violence by running programmes which focus on conflict resolution, and on countering violent extremism through the engagement of tribal and religious leaders. 

The war in Yemen has caused an enormous humanitarian crisis which is increasingly becoming worse and worse while the Saudi coalition is still imposing a siege around Yemen with no food or medical supplies getting through to people in need. The hospitals are full of injured people and lack electricity, medical equipment and other basic requirements have led to many avoidable deaths. This tragedy deserves serious attention from all of us human beings, wherever we are. We strictly condemn the ongoing killings and call for an end to the conflict. We ask all Humanitarian NGOs around the world and the free people to contribute in order to reduce the impact of this tragedy.  We believe that the cost in human lives is extremely high and that violence generates violence and so much hatred, while humanitarian action is inconceivable without close and permanent dialogue with the parties to the conflict in Yemen.