Introduction by Kevin Watkins, Executive Director of ODI
Noel Brehony CMG - former Chairman, British-Yemeni Society
Amat Al Alim Alsoswa - former Minister of Human Rights, Yemen
Rania Rajji - Roving Protection Trainer, Oxfam
Baraa Shiban - Yemen Project Coordinator, Reprieve
Michael Stephens - Research Fellow for Middle East Studies, RUSI, and Head of RUSI Qatar
Sherine El Taraboulsi - Research Fellow, Humanitarian Policy Group, ODI
In the last seven months, civil war has ravished the already unstable country of Yemen, leading to over 21 million people - approximately 82% of the population - needing humanitarian assistance of one kind or another. The confrontation between the supporters of the exiled Yemeni government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, and Houthi militia and those loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, backed by Iran, is having devastating consequences for the civilian population. UN's Humanitarian Co-ordinator has called the situation a 'humanitarian catastrophe', and the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross stated after a visit to the country that "Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years."
In addition to the civilian suffering through lack of access to food, clean drinking water, healthcare and basic services, Yemen has become a rich recruiting ground for extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and, increasingly, the Islamic State. Yet, with the rest of the region also in a state of tumult, the war in Yemen is currently not at the top of the international community's agenda.
At this joint ODI and RUSI event, a panel of humanitarian and security experts considers how the situation deteriorated so rapidly, what the most urgent needs of Yemen's population are, and what it will take to put an end to the conflict that is causing such large-scale suffering.