EU: political impasse behind humanitarian and economic deterioration

Published on 13 February 2012 in News
Ali Saeed (author)

Ali Saeed


SANA’A, Nov 2 – The party that “hinders the political solution and encourages the impasse” must be held accountable for the worsening economic and humanitarian situation, said Michele Cervone d’Urso, ambassador and head of the European Delegation to Yemen, in a press conference on Tuesday.

Yemenis have been suffering a worsening economic and humanitarian situation since May when embattled president Saleh declined to sign a power transition deal brokered by the GCC, despite internal and external pressures on him to hand control to his deputy Abd Rabo Hadi.

Thousands of Yemeni workers were laid off from their jobs after hundreds of plants and small businesses were shut down due to a chronic lack of power and diesel needed to maintain operations. This has left tens of thousands households with no source of income.

The price of cooking gas has also been volatile. Now only sold on the black market, the cost of one cylinder went up to over YR 3,000 (USD 14) this week. Fuel has also been sold at twice the price – with no parliamentary endorsement – since July with deliberate shortages of diesel amidst 20-hour long electricity outages.

“We hope that the opposing political sides can come to a political solution, so Yemenis can get out of this crisis and celebrate the good news this Eid. Yemenis can no longer afford more delays,” he said.

d’Urso explained that Yemenis have paid a high price for the transition towards democracy and a functioning state and “the EU is fully supporting the aspirations of the Yemeni people.”

But he warned Yemen’s politicians that there could be no more delays since the Security Council issued its 2014 resolution on Yemen and in two weeks a report will be submitted to the Council on the implementation progress.

“Time of promises has gone and we want to see action not words,” said d’Urso “Yemenis can’t wait any more.”

Early last month Josette Sheeran, UN World Food Program (WFP) executive director, said “rising food prices and political instability had left millions of people in Yemen hungry and vulnerable.”

D’Urso added: “All international actors have been speaking about the humanitarian situation without taking action.

“We are watching the situation carefully. We are not blind and anyone that stops the negotiatable political solution will be reported to the Security Council,” he said.

However violence has escalated more since the UN Security Resolution was issued, causing hundreds of deaths and thousands of inured people, according to the field hospital in the capital Sana’a. In areas such as north Sana’a, Taiz and Arhab, where tribesmen loyal to the opposition have been in fierce battles with Saleh’s forces, civilians sleep and wake to the sounds of shells exploding and artillery firing. Stray mortars have even fallen on Sana’a’s old city – a UNESCO world heritage site.

President Saleh has promised to step down many times, but each time he has stepped back saying the only way for him to leave is through elections. The GCC initiative, which was proposed in April and went through several changes according to Saleh’s demands, stipulates early presidential elections.

A pro-democracy activist told the Yemen Times that “all international pressures will be fruitless without sanctions on the political party that maneuvers and procrastinates”.