Tuesday, April 22, 2008

IS YEMEN THE FACE OF THINGS TO COME???



Want a job? If you're a young person in south Yemen about your only hope is to join the army and even that isn't as easy as you might think.

Poverty and unemployment is fuelling discontent in southern Yemen.

ISN reports with a fragile peace process with northern rebels on the verge of collapse, President Ali Abdullah Saleh's government faces renewed pressure in southern Yemen in the wake of the widespread disturbances earlier this month.
Joining the southern Yemeni youths, in recent months, protests spearheaded by former soldiers demanding pension rights have occurred. These former soldiers have met a tough response from the security forces, with several people killed or wounded.

Former members of the South Yemen military claim systematic discrimination in the payment of post-demobilization stipends and subsequent employment of southerners in the military and police, following the 1990 unification of the country and 1994 southern secessionist rebellion.

The government was forced to send troops and armored personnel carriers (APCs) into the worst affected towns in a bid to quell the protests, establishing checkpoints on the road linking the capital Sana'a to the former South Yemen seat of government, Aden, in an apparent bid to prevent the expansion of the protests.

Referring to the post-unification status quo in the south, Nicole Stracke from the Gulf Research Center in Dubai told ISN Security Watch, "There was discrimination in terms of jobs, money, infrastructure and investments.

"Saleh would put in key positions people who are affiliated [with] him. And given that 70 percent of Yemen government revenue comes from oil, and that south Yemen has the oil, they feel [a sense of] injustice," she said.

One analyst who requested anonymity explained that, "What is sparking them [the protests] is part of a much larger grievance against the regime. And what you are starting to see now is an increasingly common narrative between what is going on in the south and what's going on in the north [al-Houthi rebellion].

"At their heart, these demonstrations are about the inability of the government to provide basic services that include most of the people in the decision-making," she said, adding that the wave of southern protests is "building" and looks set to increase in "seriousness."

The Yemini Socialist Party (YSP), the former ruling party in south Yemen, has accused the government of seeking to "terrorise leaders of the peaceful protest movement."

The party's secretary general Yassin Noman, said the arrests of protesters and YSP party members was aimed at "thwarting ... the nationalist democratic movement in Yemen."

The south is home to only a fifth of Yemen's 22 million people, but it generates much of the country's revenue. Up to 80 percent of oil production now comes from the south, which also has fisheries and Aden's port and refinery.

Adding to the growing crisis in Yemen is the fact that more than six percent of Yemenis have dropped below the poverty line due to rising staple food prices, joining the 40 percent of Yemenis already living on less than $2 per day. This according to Yemen’s country director for the World Food Program.

The Yemen Times says there are few viable methods available to the average Yemeni family to help cope with the recent increased risk of starvation.

“Coping mechanisms are limited to skipping essential needs, so it either affects the food basket or health and education,” said Mohamed El-Kouhene, Yemen’s WFP country director, adding, “If we don’t do something now, Millennium Development Goals will be set back 70 years.”

Over a hundred people were arrested for protesting against food prices in Yemen last week.

And that ain't all folks.

Yemen suffers from grave water shortages, specialists and officials keep on warning that the country’s water supply relies on limited groundwater. Only 125 cubic meters are available annually per capita, and the groundwater has been polluted and heavily over exploited for more than two decades, according to a German Technological Cooperation (GTZ) document.

Anwar Abdulaziz, head of the Climate Change Unit in the General Authority of Environment Preservation says, “The climate changes during the last few years and especially this year is a real concern for Yemen, particularly if the frequency of precipitation events diminish, putting rainfall and agriculture in peril and lead to a catastrophic drought."

"Every year the rain season starts at the beginning of March, and now Yemen is in the end of April and there is still no rain. This means that Yemen is truly affected by the climate changes," said Abdulaziz.

According to the Yemen Observer most Yemenis have stopped drawing water (see picture) from the many wells which have recently dried up. "The water crisis in Yemen makes people worried, even children, who are the ones mostly responsible for bringing water from springs and wells," the newspaper writes.

The following is from N News Yemen.

Many protesters still in prisons: YOHR

The Sana’a-based Yemeni Observatory for Human Rights (YOHR) revealed in a press released on Tuesday that many detainees whom security authorities have arrested in the aftermath of protests in south Yemen are still in custody in prisons, some of them are unknown.

It said that five people are kept in a prison in Hadramout, nine in Aden and 32 in Lahj. It added that security authorities also detained seven students on Monday and put took them to secret prisons.

The press release accused security authorities of disallowing the observatory team to visit prisoners in known detentions, calling for disclosing prisons where students and other prisoners are held.

1 comment:

Sumayya said...

Thank-you
Why I ran against President Saleh

Anger, pure and simple. Anger that after 44 years we do not have one decent hospital to go to when we are ill. I travelled from Sana’a to Harath and noticed that the health units that dot the highway are all closed. Naturally with a budget of 2000 riyals a month how can they remain open?

Anger that after 44 years we are illiterate, sixty percent for women and fifty percent for men. Hurt to see our children crossing to the Saudi border at night to sell water to feed their families.

Upset at a spiraling population, 20,000,000 that mostly live in extreme poverty.

Anger at the high rate of unemployment. Disgusted by the monolithic prisons that tarnish the countryside.

As for the position of women; mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters, we have been

relegated to the purdah. More women have placed the veil on their faces today than in my childhood, the 1960's, my teens the 1970's and twenties, the 1980’s.Why?

How can we measure progress purely by the number of products we can now buy in the supermarkets? Or purchase of a $10 million dollar villa with imported Italian marble, plus a kidney shaped swimming pool in the basement, and drive on super highways.

Yes we have had stability for twenty-seven, thank-you Mr. President.

Yes we have a united Yemen, thank-you Mr. President.

Yes we are selling our oil, thank-you Mr. President.

We admired you for your courage in leading Yemen twenty years ago.

We praised you for uniting the country.

But how can I vote for you today when according to one estimate, alone, the cost of printing your pictures all over Yemen. By one unit, the Military Company Ltd, (Muassassa Askaria) is 500,000,000 (five hundred million riyals) while the cost of 1500 health units across the country’s total yearly budget is thirty six million riyals, 36,000,000. Is this rule by the people? Is this our brand of DEMOCRACY?

My vote is for Bin Shamlan. Yemen must change leaders in order to survive one more year let alone seven more years.



Sumayya Rajja is the first female candidate to run for the presidential office in Yemen.

I also lived in Lawrence 86-89