Money Going to Yemen’s Military, but Not to Civilians Displaced by Military Action

The UN Refugee Agency warned today that it is facing an acute shortfall of funds for its Yemen operations: 

A weak donor response this year threatens our operational capacity and protection efforts to register and document some 250,000 [Internally Displaced Persons], to monitor their situation and to address their humanitarian needs – giving special attention to those most vulnerable – namely children, women and elderly.

The funds are also urgently needed to expand the existing, already overpopulated IDP camps at Al Mazrak and to build new ones in the north of the country, to organize and provide shelter materials, namely tents and plastic sheeting as well as to provide the basic relief items such as blankets, mattresses, hygienic kits, etc.

To date, we have received fewer than ten per cent of the needed funds. UNHCR’s part of the 2010 UN consolidated appeal for Yemen amounts to US$ 39 million.

Funding for Yemen’s internally displaced may be hard to come by. But that is apparently not the case for U.S. military assistance to Yemen, which is being doubled.

The United States has doubled military assistance to Yemen. The extent of the aid will stand at $150 million, which will go toward equipment and training. The sum does not include covert U.S. assistance for Yemen, which has quietly increased in recent months. Media reports quoted U.S officials saying that the money was approved last Friday by Defence Secretary Robert Gates and is more than double the amount of US aid to Yemen last year. It will pay for military equipment and training for Yemeni forces.

I understand the importance of bi-lateral military assistance, but is it so much to ask to once in a while throw a few bucks to wars’ victims rather than the warriors themselves? 


Photo: Paul Stephens / IRIN  Al-Mazraq, Yemen Oct. 9, 2009. A young girl ties down her family’s tent at the Maraq refugee camp in Hajjah province.