In Yemen all hopes are pinned on peace. “We live in a situation of extreme vulnerability, but we have to take action. We try to survive every day and at the same time we fight to transform the way of thinking of our people ”, says Iman Haddi by video call from Abbis (Yemen). At 35, this entrepreneur in a rural area in the north of the country leads a group of women who installed a solar power plant that provides electricity to the inhabitants of her village.
In the Arab country, extreme poverty could be eradicated in a generation if the war ceases. This statement is included in the latest report of the United Nations World Development Program (UNDP) on Yemen, presented on November 22. Since 2015, the country has witnessed military clashes between government forces, backed by the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, and the Houthi rebels, backed by Iran. More than 15 million Yemenis live below the poverty line. The war results in a crisis that is affecting livelihoods, food prices and the deterioration of basic services such as health and education.
“We do not want war. We are aware of the benefits of peace. We live with the hopelessness of our daily reality, but we cling to the desire to rebuild our country, “says Haddi. Support for recovery must go far beyond infrastructure, as it is necessary to put people at the center, UNDP suggests. and effective and inclusive governance and institutions have the highest development performance ”, claims the international body.
We live with the hopelessness of our daily reality, but we cling to the hope of being able to rebuild our country
Iman Haddi, 35-year-old Yemeni entrepreneur
The UN places special emphasis on the importance of female empowerment for recovery. “According to our analysis, efforts focused on women and girls in Yemen can lead to a 30% increase in GDP by 2050 [que en 2020 ascendía a 16.495 millones de euros]″ Says Noeman Alsayyad, UNDP spokesperson, by phone. “In addition, there would be a reduction in half of maternal mortality by 2029. At this time, complications related to childbirth are the main cause of maternal and infant death.”
Iman Haddi has inspired other women. Proud, she uses the example of Zahra: “I convinced my friend Zahra to install the electricity system in her house and buy an electric mixer to make incense and then sell it. Right now she has an income that allows her and her family to get ahead ”. He continues to list and talks about Faleha who, thanks to electricity, has managed to buy a sewing machine and sell clothes so that she can help her parents who are older and live in a cabin.
Yemen’s is considered the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis, largely due to the ravages of this conflict. The war broke out in 2015 and has claimed more than 377,000 victims, according to the UNDP in its report, which has also counted 154,000 directly killed by situations of combat and violence. Meanwhile, another 223,000, almost 60% of the total, have lost their lives due to indirect causes, that is, due to the social damage caused by the war.
The UN estimates that one in four people has lost their job and the majority of the population lives in precarious employment and without resources to cover their basic needs. Haddi is clear that the benefits of the solar plant will serve to “give easy loans to repay” so that the women who work with her can open their small businesses. “This will create new job opportunities and expand the services available in the community.”
The UNDP document concludes that another future is possible thanks to the young population that makes up the social majority. “I am not the only woman who has ambitions and wants to fight despite living in a devastated country,” insists Haddi. She knows many young women who dream of entrepreneurship, of being independent in a very conservative society, but above all, that they can manage to live in a safe environment without threats.
If the war persists, by 2030 1.3 million people will have lost their lives, and of them 80% would be under five years of age
Haddi boasts that she has been named one of the BBC’s Most Influential Women of 2020 for inspiring positive change in rural Yemen. The list, compiled by the British public broadcaster, includes Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, actress Michelle Yeoh, and American actress and activist Jane Fonda. The Yemeni woman’s goal is to develop a large solar plant that will serve the 3,600 households in her district.
The youngest look forward to a peaceful future. “Yemen is a country whose majority of the population is very young,” says Alsayyad, the spokesman for the UN body. If the war persists, by the year 2030 1.3 million people will have lost their lives, and of them 80% will be under the age of five, according to the United Nations report in an attempt to put the consequences in numbers. not to act.
The crisis has already led an additional 4.9 million people to malnutrition, and the report projects “a devastating image,” explains the UN spokesman. Malnutrition will grow to 9.2 million by 2030 if the war persists; for the same year, the number of people living in extreme poverty would increase to 22 million, 65% of the population, according to the document presented by the UNDP.
During the six years of war, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), more than a million people are displaced. Since the start of the new offensive in Marib, last September and some 172 kilometers from the capital Sanaa, some 40,000 people have been forced to flee. It is an area that already housed displaced people from all over the country. The UN calls for a ceasefire and denounces that these displacements “are increasing the need for shelter, essential household items, water and sanitation, education and protection services, especially for children.”
In recent months, the intensification of the confrontations has caused the closure of five accommodation centers managed by Acnur. Furthermore, the population is subject to “fear and panic” and struggles to access humanitarian aid.
The UN warns that, if peace does not come, the direct or indirect victims of the war could shoot up to a million and a half
“The two sides fight for the future, but the report says that if the war does not stop there will be no future. It would benefit everyone, and especially the Yemeni people, “adds Alsayyad. The UN warns that, if peace does not come, the direct or indirect victims of the war could shoot up to a million and a half. They estimate that hunger, water shortages and the spread of disease are the cause of 60% of deaths in the country.
In recent months, the intensification of the confrontations has caused the closure of five accommodation centers managed by Acnur. Furthermore, the population is subject to “fear and panic” and struggles to access humanitarian aid. “The two sides fight for the future, however, the report warns that, if the war does not stop, there will be no future. It would benefit everyone, and especially the Yemeni people, “adds Alsayyad. The UN warns that, if peace does not come, the direct or indirect victims of the war could shoot up to a million and a half. They estimate that hunger, water shortages and the spread of disease are the cause of 60% of deaths in the country.
The six years of fighting have undermined any prospect of economic growth, which is estimated to have been 126,000 million dollars (110,000 million euros) of Yemeni GDP. The study reveals that, if hostilities cease, by 2050 it would amount to 450,000 million dollars (about 400 million euros). On the contrary, if the conflict persists and peace does not come, the death toll could skyrocket to over one million in less than a decade.
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