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Ireland pledges €2 million in aid to victims of Yemen's devastating, never-ending, civil war

Three million people have been displaced from their homes by the ongoing conflict in the gulf state.

Yemen Daily Life Yemenis warming themselves by a fire on the outskirts of the city of Sanaa on New Year's Eve Source: Hani Mohammed

IRELAND HAS PLEDGED €2 million in humanitarian funding to Yemen, the gulf state reeling from five years of civil war.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has said the funding will be used “to meet urgent needs” in the country.

One of the region’s poorest nations, Yemen has been devastated by a civil war between its Saudi-backed provisional government and rebels backing former authoritarian president Ali Abdullah Saleh since 2011.

At present neither side seems capable of landing a decisive blow in the conflict. Stalemate and never-ending airstrikes on all sides are the order of the day.

Some 19 million citizens are estimated to be in need of humanitarian aid in the fallout from the fighting, 70% of the country’s population. Three million people have been displaced from their homes.

Ireland’s most recent donation doubles the amount pledged to the humanitarian effort in Yemen since the conflict first escalated in March 2015.

28/11/2016. Charlie Flanagan Charlie Flanagan Source: Leah Farrell

“This conflict is a reflection of wider tensions in the region, and a peace agreement in Yemen would go some way towards greater regional stability,” Flanagan said when announcing the funding.

What is going on?

The roots of the Yemeni conflict extend from a failed transition of power between Saleh and current president-in-exile (and Saleh’s then deputy) Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in November 2011.

In the political chaos that followed, Huthi rebels, ostensibly loyal to Saleh but who had rebelled against his own rule in the previous decade, took the opportunity to capture much of the northwest of the country, including the seat of power, the capital city Sanaa.

While Hadi was initially held captive, he eventually escaped to the southern city of Aden (where a proxy government is now based) in February 2015, before fleeing the country the following month. He has resided mostly in Riyadh in neighbouring Saudi Arabia in recent times.

As things stand the conflict is primarily between the Huthi rebels and a Saudi-backed coalition taking the part of Hadi. That coalition is likewise receiving logistical and intelligence support from western powers including the US, Britain, and France.

However, jihadist groups including Islamic State and Al Qaeda have used the conflict to capture swathes of territory in the south of the country.

yemen Source: Google Maps

The two extremist groups have carried out a spate of attacks in Aden, Yemen’s second city and headquarters of the internationally-recognised government whose forces retook the port city from the Huthis last year.

Over 7,000 people, nearly two-thirds of them civilians, have died since the conflict began to escalate in early 2015.

Ceasefire

In recent months the US has been accused of launching its first strikes of the conflict in retaliation against rebel strikes against a number of its ships (all of which fell short) in the Red Sea.

Suicide bombings meanwhile have become the most common headline to emerge from the conflict, with nearly 70 Yemeni troops killed in Isis bombings in the space of a week last month.

Mideast Yemen A Houthi fighter riding a patrol truck in Sanaa in late December Source: Hani Mohammed

The UK’s foreign minister Boris Johnson meanwhile last month broke ranks (and protocol) in criticising Britain’s ally Saudi Arabia for being a “puppeteer” in the Middle East’s many religious wars.

In December, outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry said he hoped to see a new ceasefire emerge in the war inside two weeks.

On his last visit to the kingdom as secretary, Kerry said the United States will work with Britain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to achieve a new pause in the fighting, which would be the eighth ceasefire attempt since hostilities escalated early last year.

That ceasefire has yet to emerge. Nearly 50 soldiers have been killed in the first week of January 2017.

With © – AFP, 2017

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