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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

Process to draft Syria constitution begins this week

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The process of drafting a new constitution for Syria will begin this week, the UN Special Envoy for the country, Geir Pedersen, said on Sunday at a press conference in Geneva.

Mr. Pedersen was speaking following a meeting with the government and opposition co-chairs of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, who have agreed to start the process for constitutional reform.

The members of its so-called “small body”, tasked with preparing and drafting the Constitution, are in the Swiss city for their sixth round of talks in two years, which begin on Monday. 

Their last meeting, held in January, ended without progress, and the UN envoy has been negotiating between the parties on a way forward.

“The two Co-Chairs now agree that we will not only prepare for constitutional reform, but we will prepare and start drafting for constitutional reform,” Mr. Pedersen told journalists.

“So, the new thing this week is that we will actually be starting a drafting process for constitutional reform in Syria.”

The UN continues to support efforts towards a Syrian-owned and led political solution to end more than a decade of war that has killed upwards of 350,000 people and left 13 million in need of humanitarian aid.

An important contribution

The Syrian Constitutional Committee was formed in 2019, comprising 150 men and women, with the Government, the opposition and civil society each nominating 50 people.

This larger group established the 45-member small body, which consists of 15 representatives from each of the three sectors.

For the first time ever, committee co-chairs Ahmad Kuzbari, the Syrian government representative, and Hadi al-Bahra, from the opposition side, met together with Mr. Pedersen on Sunday morning. 

He described it as “a substantial and frank discussion on how we are to proceed with the constitutional reform and indeed in detail how we are planning for the week ahead of us.”

Mr. Pedersen told journalists that while the Syrian Constitutional Committee is an important contribution to the political process, “the committee in itself will not be able to solve the Syrian crisis, so we need to come together, with serious work, on the Constitutional Committee, but also address the other aspects of the Syrian crisis.”

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Middle East

North Africa: Is Algeria Weaponizing Airspace and Natural Gas?

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In a series of shocking and unintelligible decisions, the Algerian Government closed its airspace to Moroccan military and civilian aircraft on September 22, 2021, banned French military planes from using its airspace on October 3rd, and decided not to renew the contract relative to the Maghreb-Europe gas pipeline, which goes through Morocco and has been up and running since 1996–a contract that comes to end on October 31.

In the case of Morocco, Algeria advanced ‘provocations and hostile’ actions as a reason to shut airspace and end the pipeline contract, a claim that has yet to be substantiated with evidence. Whereas in the case of France, Algeria got angry regarding visa restrictions and comments by French President Emmanuel Macron on the Algerian military grip on power and whether the North African country was a nation prior to French colonization in 1830.

Tensions for decades

Algeria has had continued tensions with Morocco for decades, over border issues and over the Western Sahara, a territory claimed by Morocco as part of its historical territorial unity, but contested by Algeria which supports an alleged liberation movement that desperately fights for independence since the 1970s.

With France, the relation is even more complex and plagued with memories of colonial exactions and liberation and post-colonial traumas, passions and injuries. France and Algeria have therefore developed, over the post-independence decades, a love-hate attitude that quite often mars otherwise strong economic and social relations.

Algeria has often reacted to the two countries’ alleged ‘misbehavior’ by closing borders –as is the case with Morocco since 1994—or calling its ambassadors for consultations, or even cutting diplomatic relations, as just happened in August when it cut ties with its western neighbor.

But it is the first-time Algeria resorts to the weaponization of energy and airspace. “Weaponization” is a term used in geostrategy to mean the use of goods and commodities, that are mainly destined for civilian use and are beneficial for international trade and the welfare of nations, for geostrategic, political and even military gains. As such “weaponization” is contrary to the spirit of free trade, open borders, and solidarity among nations, values that are at the core of common international action and positive globalization.

What happened?

Some observers advance continued domestic political and social unrest in Algeria, whereby thousands of Algerians have been taking to the streets for years to demand regime-change and profound political and economic reforms. Instead of positively responding to the demands of Algerians, the government is probably looking for desperate ways to divert attention and cerate foreign enemies as sources of domestic woes. Morocco and France qualify perfectly for the role of national scapegoats.

It may be true also that in the case of Morocco, Algeria is getting nervous at its seeing its Western neighbor become a main trade and investment partner in Africa, a role it can levy to develop diplomatic clout regarding the Western Sahara issue. Algeria has been looking for ways to curb Morocco’s growing influence in Africa for years. A pro-Algerian German expert, by the name of Isabelle Werenfels, a senior fellow in the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, even recommended to the EU to put a halt to Morocco’s pace and economic clout so that Algeria could catch up. Weaponization may be a desperate attempt to hurt the Moroccan economy and curb its dynamism, especially in Africa.

The impact of Algeria’s weaponization of energy and airspace on the Moroccan economy is minimal and on French military presence in Mali is close to insignificant; however, it shows how far a country that has failed to administer the right reforms and to transfer power to democratically elected civilians can go.

In a region, that is beleaguered by threats and challenges of terrorism, organized crime, youth bulge, illegal migration and climate change, you would expect countries like Algeria, with its geographic extension and oil wealth, to be a beacon of peace and cooperation. Weaponization in international relations is inacceptable as it reminds us of an age when bullying and blackmail between nations, was the norm. The people of the two countries, which share the same history, language and ethnic fabric, will need natural gas and unrestricted travel to prosper and grow and overcome adversity; using energy and airspace as weapons is at odds with the dreams of millions of young people in Algeria and Morocco that aspire for a brighter future in an otherwise gloomy economic landscape. Please don’t shatter those dreams!

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Middle East

Breaking The Line of the Israel-Palestine Conflict

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The conflict between Israel-Palestine is a prolonged conflict and has become a major problem, especially in the Middle East region.

A series of ceasefires and peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine that occurred repeatedly did not really “normalize” the relationship between the two parties.

In order to end the conflict, a number of parties consider that the two-state solution is the best approach to create two independent and coexistent states. Although a number of other parties disagreed with the proposal, and instead proposed a one-state solution, combining Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip into one big state.

Throughout the period of stalemate reaching an ideal solution, the construction and expansion of settlements carried out illegally by Israel in the Palestinian territories, especially the West Bank and East Jerusalem, also continued without stopping and actually made the prospect of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian crisis increasingly eroded, and this could jeopardize any solutions.

The attempted forced eviction in the Sheikh Jarrah district, which became one of the sources of the conflict in May 2021, for example, is an example of how Israel has designed a system to be able to change the demographics of its territory by continuing to annex or “occupy” extensively in the East Jerusalem area. This is also done in other areas, including the West Bank.

In fact, Israel’s “occupation” of the eastern part of Jerusalem which began at the end of the 1967 war, is an act that has never received international recognition.

This is also confirmed in a number of resolutions issued by the UN Security Council Numbers 242, 252, 267, 298, 476, 478, 672, 681, 692, 726, 799, 2334 and also United Nations General Assembly Resolutions Number 2253, 55/130, 60/104, 70/89, 71/96, A/72/L.11 and A/ES-10/L.22 and supported by the Advisory Opinion issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2004 on Legal Consequences of The Construction of A Wall in The Occupied Palestine Territory which states that East Jerusalem is part of the Palestinian territories under Israeli “occupation”.

1 or 2 country solution

Back to the issue of the two-state solution or the one-state solution that the author mentioned earlier. The author considers that the one-state solution does not seem to be the right choice.

Facts on the ground show how Israel has implemented a policy of “apartheid” that is so harsh against Palestinians. so that the one-state solution will further legitimize the policy and make Israel more dominant. In addition, there is another consideration that cannot be ignored that Israel and Palestine are 2 parties with very different and conflicting political and cultural identities that are difficult to reconcile.

Meanwhile, the idea of ​​a two-state solution is an idea that is also difficult to implement. Because the idea still seems too abstract, especially on one thing that is very fundamental and becomes the core of the Israel-Palestine conflict, namely the “division” of territory between Israel and Palestine.

This is also what makes it difficult for Israel-Palestine to be able to break the line of conflict between them and repeatedly put them back into the status quo which is not a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The status quo, is in fact a way for Israel to continue to “annex” more Palestinian territories by establishing widespread and systematic illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Today, more than 600,000 Israeli settlers now live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In fact, a number of resolutions issued by the UN Security Council have explicitly and explicitly called for Israel to end the expansion of Israeli settlement construction in the occupied territory and require recognition of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the region.

Thus, all efforts and actions of Israel both legislatively and administratively that can cause changes in the status and demographic composition in East Jerusalem and the West Bank must continue to be condemned. Because this is a violation of the provisions of international law.

Fundamental thing

To find a solution to the conflict, it is necessary to look back at the core of the conflict that the author has mentioned earlier, and the best way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to encourage Israel to immediately end the “occupation” that it began in 1967, and return the settlements to the pre-Islamic borders 1967 In accordance with UN Security Council resolution No. 242.

But the question is, who can stop the illegal Israeli settlements in the East Jerusalem and West Bank areas that violate the Palestinian territories?

In this condition, international political will is needed from countries in the world, to continue to urge Israel to comply with the provisions of international law, international humanitarian law, international human rights law and also the UN Security Council Resolutions.

At the same time, the international community must be able to encourage the United Nations, especially the United Nations Security Council, as the organ that has the main responsibility for maintaining and creating world peace and security based on Article 24 of the United Nations Charter to take constructive and effective steps in order to enforce all United Nations Resolutions, and dare to sanction violations committed by Israel, and also ensure that Palestinian rights are important to protect.

So, do not let this weak enforcement of international law become an external factor that also “perpetuates” the cycle of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It will demonstrate that John Austin was correct when he stated that international law is only positive morality and not real law.

And in the end, the most fundamental thing is that the blockade, illegal development, violence, and violations of international law must end. Because the ceasefire in the Israel-Palestine conflict is only a temporary solution to the conflict.

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