National Dialogue Crucial for Yemen’s Democratic Transition

With many unresolved conflicts engulfing Yemen, the national dialogue conference slated for next year will be crucial for the democratic transition underway in the country.

Yemen is reportedly is dealing with serious security concerns, an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and many unresolved conflicts

According to the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, the success or failure of the national dialogue is likely to make or break Yemen’s transition.

Gert Danielsen (facing camera), a Norwegian staff member with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), embraces a colleague after his release from captivity today, in Sana’a, Yemen. Danielsen was abducted by Yemeni armed tribesmen almost two weeks ago and was found to be in good health upon release. UN Photo/UNDP/Noeman Al Sayyad

He noted that helping to ensure the success of the all-inclusive dialogue, initial preparations for which have begun, will be the UN’s top priority in Yemen in the coming months.

He said result of the conference will feed into the constitution-making process that is to conclude in late 2013, enabling general elections to take place in February 2014.

Transition Largely On Track

In his remarks to the Council, Mr. Benomar noted that the transition remains “largely on track,” with President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour, who came to power in February’s election.

“The timeline for the transition is very tight and there is no time to lose.”

– Mr. Benomar

He highlighted that one of Yemen’s key challenges is to assert the authority of the State in an environment that is dominated by a multitude of armed non-State actors competing for power.

He stresses that obstructionist moves to impede President Hadi’s reorganization and control of the military and security forces could derail Yemen’s fragile transition process.

Mr. Benomar said the national dialogue conference could be an essential step towards this end.

To be successful, the national dialogue process must be designed and driven by the Yemenis themselves, the envoy stressed.

Humanitarian Crisis

Earlier this year, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)reported that Yemen is in the midst of an “increasingly complex, full-fledged humanitarian crisis.

It is estimated that the recent political turmoil in Yemen last year, part of a wave of protests across the Middle East and North Africa calling for social, economic and democratic reforms, has led to more than 82 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

To address the humanitarian needs of the Yemenis, the World Food Programm set to scale up its assistance in response to the growing needs in Yemen.

WFP is preparing to feed 3.5 million vulnerable people in Yemen in 2012. This includes people who have been pushed into hunger in the wake of sharp hikes in food prices and displacement in the northern and the southern regions of the country.

The agency is especially prioritizing 1.8 million severely food insecure Yemenis living in the poorest 14 governorates. The estimated total cost of the food assistance is $207 million.

WFP’s efforts in the country have received a boost with a $31 million contribution from Germany, during what the agency’s representative there, Lubna Alaman, described as an “increasingly dire” situation.

The contribution is the largest donation that WFP has ever received from Germany for Yemen in one year and one of the highest ever worldwide.

The German contribution will enable WFP to distribute more than 20,000 metric tons of food commodities such as fortified wheat flour, oil, and specialized nutritional products for severely malnourished children. The contribution will also support WFP’s Food for Girls’ Education programme which provides take-home food rations as an incentive for families to keep girls in schools.

In addition, with ten million Yemenis facing food insecurity, the United States of America has expressed commitment on providing lifesaving humanitarian assistance to those in need in Yemen.

US Humanitarian Assistance

In the face of this worsening situation, the United States is focused on providing lifesaving humanitarian assistance to those in need in Yemen.

The United States is addressing the needs in a way that helps build resilience and stability.

To date in this fiscal year, the United States is providing over 73 million in humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict, she reported.

The assistance includes over 47 million in emergency food assistance, she added.

The assistance that the US government is providing includes things like 37,000 metric tons of wheat and other food items where over $11 million for food vouchers will allow people to purchase food in local markets.

The uprising in Yemen is part of a wider pro-democracy movement across the region, dubbed the “Arab Spring,” that began at the start of this year and has already toppled long-standing regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.