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Refugee Crisis in Yemen and Its implication on Future World relations

Photo: WFP/Mohammed Awadh

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The refugee crisis has been an important part of the non-traditional security threats in recent years. There has been a lot of efforts to define and understand refugees and the crisis that led to migration to the different countries in recent years. According to the UNHCR refugees are “someone unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.” This definition can be connected to the aspect of the displacement of the societies from their home nation. This has been in contention in the International realm with special reference to the MENA region i.e. the Middle East and North Africa region which has seen a different understanding of the refugee crisis and also the increase in the number of refugees. The following paper will look at this aspect of the Refugee Crisis in Yemen and look at how UNHCR has been functioning in solving and rehabilitation of the refugees from Yemen. This will also be a test of Liberalism as there will be an analysis of the effectiveness of the institution UNHCR on the Crisis and also on the larger question of whether the international Institutions are effective in treating with the Non-Traditional security threats.

History of Yemen Civil War and its Aftermath

The refugee crisis in Yemen was sparked by the Yemen Civil War of 2015. The history of the Civil War goes before 2004 with the formation of the Houthi Rebels who were looking for greater autonomy over the Northern Province of Saada which used to be their territory. This organization was critical of the presidency of Abdarbuh Mansur Hadi who was against giving the Rebels a greater Autonomy over the region. This led to the capture of the Sana by the rebels in September 2014 and the house arrest of the President and other Ministers by the rebels. This led to the President fleeing to Saudi Arabia which led to the operation ‘Decisive Storm’ by the Saudi-Led Coalition backed by Saudi and other GCC countries. The operation was aimed at destroying the rebel stronghold in the region and also to reinstate the Government of Mansur Hadi. The operation was successful and led to the destruction of the Houthi Rebels and the capture of Sana, Capital of Yemen. The forces initiated other operations called ‘Renewal of Hope’ which aimed at the post-war reconstruction of Yemen.  The conflict had far-reaching effects in the support for Sectarian violence in the Country. The conflict also saw a modern cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran and this led to the arrival of ISIS and Al Qaeda in Yemen.

This conflict has created a huge refugee crisis in the region. According to the UNHCR estimates 2.3 Million people were internally displaced as of 14 October 2015. Out of these, around 166,658 refugees moved to the Middle East and North African region as of 1 November. Around 75,758 fled to African Countries such as Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Somalia. This has led to a major crisis in these countries with a huge influx of refugees. But there have been measures taken by these countries and other middle-eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia and Oman which sort to provide basic facilities to these refugees and also education to them.

Work is done by the UNHCR in the Yemen Refugee Crisis

The UNHCR has started the work on the issue with the creation of the Yemen Situation Refugee Response plan in December 2015. This plan outlines the work which needs to be done in different aspects of the migration be it Internal displacement or be it fleeing to the nearby countries of Africa and the Middle East. This plan started with outlining the work done by UNHCR as of November 2015. The work done has been divided into several categories such as

  • Access to save, orderly and humane movement
  • Protection and Assistance Upon Arrival
  • Strengthen partnerships, regional coordination, and promote dialogue and cooperation

This work included not just the role of UNHCR but other actors such as IOM, host countries such as Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia, and other countries. Especially, there was large spending by the UNHCR for the rehabilitation of the refugees amounting to 44,094,750 USD. There also has been a declaration of the Yemen situation as a Level 3 Humanitarian emergency and was given special consideration with the appointment of the regional coordinator to coordinate the working of the UNHCR with other organizations of United Nations such as UNICEF, IOM, IASC, and others.

The work also included seeking complete assistance from other Middle-Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia and Oman which provided refugees to the Yemen citizens and also made changes to their policies of immigration.

The other aspect of the work done by UNHCR is also addressing the issue in a properly planned manner and was divided into categories such as Djibouti Response Plan, Somalia Response Plan, and Ethiopia Response Plan, and so on. This included a detailed demarcation of the work needed to be done to help the refugees in these countries and also to provide a clear framework for the policy creation in these countries for the restoration of these refugees.

Conclusion

The work done by the UNHCR has been commendable in the issue of the Refugee Crisis in Yemen and the work continues. But according to my further understanding and research the work done has become incomplete especially concerning the safety and rescue of the refugees.

The first reason for this is the increased inefficiency shown by the regional actors on the issue and also the less co-operation shown by the coalition involved in the Yemen Civil War. Even though Saudi Arabia has taken initiative for the rehabilitation of the refugees along with UNHCR but there has been a communal side to this rescue leaving other communities out in the rescue operation.

The second reason is to do with the inefficiency of not only UNHCR but other organizations of the UN to solve the Civil war and also call for peace in the area so that there can be a reduction in the number of refugees arriving in the other countries.

The third reason for this argument is the over-burdening of the refugees in the other host countries especially in Africa which has caused an increase in violence to the refugees and also an increase in Unemployment. Even though there has been an increase in funding to these countries by UNHCR but this has not been used properly for the rehabilitation of the refugees.

Thus, there has been an effort in the rehabilitation and solving of the refugee crisis in Yemen but these efforts are being overturned by selective rescue and also other issues that have reduced the effort done.

  1. References
  2. McSeveney, S., 1973. Ethnic Groups, Ethnic Conflicts, and Recent Quantitative Research in American Political History. International Migration Review, 7(1), p.14.
  3. Fargues, P., 2017. Mass Migration and Uprisings in Arab Countries: An Analytical Framework. Revue internationale de politique de développement, 7(7).
  4. Das, S., and Lahiri, S., 2006. A Strategic Analysis of Terrorist Activity and Counter-Terrorism Policies. Topics in Theoretical Economics, 6(1).

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Middle East

What is the public sphere today in Turkey?

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The concept of public sphere, which was started to be examined in Europe in the 1960s, has different meanings according to different perspectives, as a definite definition cannot be made today, and this situation creates important discussion topics about the use of such spaces.

Long debated the definition of public space in Europe, in Turkey also began to affect 1980”l year. After the 1980 coup, some communities, which were kept out of sight, fearing that the Republic project would be harmed, demanded the recognition of their ethnic and cultural identities. Thus the concept of the public sphere in Turkey, especially since the early 1990s to be addressed in various academic publications, use and began to discuss political issues.

Especially in the past years, the public sphere debates on the headscarf issue were discussed from various angles. The debate started with Prime Minister Erdogan’s criticism of President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who did not invite his wife to a NATO dinner, saying “Dolmabahçe is not a public space”, and the President of the Council of Higher Education, Prof.Dr. Erdoğan Teziç; He responded by emphasizing that the public sphere is not a “ geographical definition ” but a functional concept.

Before defining the public sphere, the understanding that shows that the definition of space in the Ottoman Empire was shaped as less private, private, very private and very very private is still one of the biggest reasons for the definition of the public sphere. While expressing, it reminds that he entered the Ottoman literature in a different way in the 19th century. Thinkers who indicate the association of the public sphere with the state in general express it as the sphere that is related to the state, not the “public”. “When you say ‘public’, the state comes to mind immediately; We mean something like government administration, its organs, organizations, officials, or activities, an official domain that is owned or run under state control. However, as Habermas said, the public sphere is above all the sphere in which the public opinion is formed in our social life ”.

As citizens of the city, we observe that some projects have spread to the spaces defined as public space due to the fact that today’s public space and public space concepts have not been defined precisely and construction activities have increased due to the anxiety of rent.

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Middle East

Erdogan’s Calamitous Authoritarianism

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Turkey’s President Erdogan is becoming ever more dangerous as he continues to ravage his own country and destabilize scores of states in the Middle East, the Balkans, and North Africa, while cozying up to the West’s foremost advisories. Sadly, there seems to be no appetite for most EU member states to challenge Erdogan and put him on notice that he can no longer pursue his authoritarianism at home and his adventurous meddling abroad with impunity.

To understand the severity of Erdogan’s actions and ambitions and their dire implications, it suffices to quote Ahmet Davutoglu, formerly one of Erdogan’s closest associates who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and subsequently Prime Minister. Following his forced resignation in May 2016 he stated “I will sustain my faithful relationship with our president until my last breath. No one has ever heard — and will ever hear — a single word against our president come from my mouth.”

Yet on October 12, Davutoglu declared “Erdogan left his friends who struggled and fought with him in exchange for the symbols of ancient Turkey, and he is trying to hold us back now…. You yourself [Erdogan] are the calamity. The biggest calamity that befell this people is the regime that turned the country into a disastrous family business.”

The stunning departure of Davutoglu from his earlier statement shows how desperate conditions have become, and echoed how far and how dangerously Erdogan has gone. Erdogan has inflicted a great calamity on his own people, and his blind ambition outside Turkey is destabilizing many countries while dangerously undermining Turkey’s and its Western allies’ national security and strategic interests.

A brief synopsis of Erdogan’s criminal domestic practices and his foreign misadventures tell the whole story.

Domestically, he incarcerated tens of thousands of innocent citizens on bogus charges, including hundreds of journalists. Meanwhile he is pressuring the courts to send people to prison for insulting him, as no one can even express their thoughts about this ruthlessness. Internationally, Erdogan ordered Turkish intelligence operatives to kill or smuggle back to the country Turkish citizens affiliated with the Gülen movement.

He regularly cracks down on Turkey’s Kurdish minority, preventing them from living a normal life in accordance with their culture, language, and traditions, even though they have been and continue to be loyal Turkish citizens. There is no solution to the conflict except political, as former Foreign Minister Ali Babacan adamantly stated on October 20: “… a solution [to the Kurdish issue] will be political and we will defend democracy persistently.”

Erdogan refuses to accept the law of the sea convention that gives countries, including Cyprus, the right to an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for energy exploration, while threatening the use of force against Greece, another NATO member no less. He openly sent a research ship to the region for oil and gas deposits, which EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called “extremely worrying.”

He invaded Syria with Trump’s blessing to prevent the Syrian Kurds from establishing autonomous rule, under the pretext of fighting the PKK and the YPG (the Syrian Kurdish militia that fought side-by-side the US, and whom Erdogan falsely accuses of being a terrorist group).

He is sending weapons to the Sunni in northern Lebanon while setting up a branch of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) in the country—a practice Erdogan has used often to gain a broader foothold in countries where it has an interest.

While the Turkish economy is in tatters, he is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the Balkans, flooding countries with Turkish imams to spread his Islamic gospel and to ensure their place in his neo-Ottoman orbit. Criticizing Erdogan’s economic leadership, Babacan put it succinctly when he said this month that “It is not possible in Turkey for the economic or financial system to continue, or political legitimacy hold up.”

Erdogan is corrupt to the bone. He conveniently appointed his son-in-law as Finance Minister, which allows him to hoard tens of millions of dollars, as Davutoglu slyly pointed out: “The only accusation against me…is the transfer of land to an educational institution over which I have no personal rights and which I cannot leave to my daughter, my son, my son-in-law or my daughter-in-law.”

Erdogan is backing Azerbaijan in its dispute with Armenia (backed by Iran) over the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is inhabited by ethnic Armenians and has been the subject of dispute for over 30 years.

He is exploiting Libya’s civil strife by providing the Government of National Accord (GNA) with drones and military equipment to help Tripoli gain the upper hand in its battle against Khalifa Haftar’s forces. Former Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said in February 2020 that “The unclear Turkish foreign policy by Erdogan may put Turkey in grave danger due to this expansion towards Libya.”

He is meddling in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an effort to prevent them from settling their dispute unless Israel meets Palestinian demands. He granted several Hamas officials Turkish citizenship to spite Israel, even though Hamas openly calls for Israel’s destruction.

He betrayed NATO by buying the Russian-made S-400 air defense system, which seriously compromises the alliance’s technology and intelligence.

He is destabilizing many countries, including Somalia, Qatar, Libya, and Syria, by dispatching military forces and hardware while violating the air space of other countries like Iraq, Cyprus, and Greece. Yakis said Turkey is engaging in a “highly daring bet where the risks of failure are enormous.”

Erdogan supports extremist Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, and an assortment of jihadists, including ISIS, knowing full well that these groups are sworn enemies of the West—yet he uses them as a tool to promote his wicked Islamic agenda.

He regularly blackmails EU members, threatening to flood Europe with Syria refugees unless they support his foreign escapades such as his invasion of Syria, and provide him with billions in financial aid to cope with the Syrian refugees.

The question is how much more evidence does the EU need to act? A close look at Erdogan’s conduct clearly illuminates his ultimate ambition to restore much of the Ottoman Empire’s influence over the countries that were once under its control.

Erdogan is dangerous. He has cited Hitler as an example of an effective executive presidential system, and may seek to acquire nuclear weapons. It’s time for the EU to wake up and take Erdogan’s long-term agenda seriously, and take severe punitive measures to arrest his potentially calamitous behavior. Sadly, the EU has convinced itself that from a geostrategic perspective Turkey is critically important, which Erdogan is masterfully exploiting.

The EU must be prepared take a stand against Erdogan, with or without the US. Let’s hope, though, that Joe Biden will be the next president and together with the EU warn Erdogan that his days of authoritarianism and foreign adventurism are over.

The views expressed are those of the author.

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Middle East

Syrian Refugees Have Become A Tool Of Duplicitous Politics

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Syrian refugees in Rukban camp

Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria the issue of Syrian refugees and internally displace has been the subject of countless articles and reports with international humanitarian organizations and countries involved in the Syrian conflict shifting responsibility for the plight of migrants.

The most notorious example of human suffering put against political games is the Rukban refugee camp located in eastern Syria inside the 55-km zone around Al-Tanf base controlled by the U.S. and its proxies.

According to official information, more than 50,000 people, mostly women and children, currently live in the camp. This is a huge number comparable to the population of a small town. The Syrian government, aware of the plight of people in Rukban, has repeatedly urged Washington to open a humanitarian corridor so that everyone can safely return home. However, all such proposals were ignored by the American side. U.S. also refuse to provide the camp with first aid items. Neighbouring Jordan is inactive, too, despite Rukban being the largest of dozens other temporary detention centres in Syria, where people eke out a meager existence.

At the same time, the problem is not only refugee camps. Syria has been at war for a decade. The country’s economy has suffered greatly over this period, and many cities have been practically grazed to the ground. Moreover, the global coronavirus epidemic didn’t spare Syria and drained the already weakened economy even more. However, Damascus’ attempts of post-war reconstruction and economic recovery were undermined by multiple packages of severe sanctions imposed by the U.S. At the same time, U.S.-based human rights monitors and humanitarian organizations continue to weep over the Syrian citizens’ misery.

The situation is the same for those refugees who stay in camps abroad, especially in countries bordering on Syria, particularly Jordan and Turkey. Ankara has been using Syrian citizens as a leverage against the European states in pursuit of political benefits for a long time. No one pays attention to the lives of people who are used as a change coin in big politics. This is equally true for Rukban where refugees are held in inhuman conditions and not allowed to return to their homeland. In those rare exceptions that they are able to leave, refugees have to pay large sums of money that most of those living in camp are not able to come by.

It’s hard to predict how long the Syrian conflict will go on and when – or if – the American military will leave the Al-Tanf base. One thing can be said for sure: the kind of criminal inaction and disregard for humanitarian catastrophe witnessed in refugee camps is a humiliating failure of modern diplomacy and an unforgivable mistake for the international community. People shouldn’t be a tool in the games of politicians.

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