Crise alimentaire au Yémen: 10 millions d’affamés

Cette article etait écrit par Omar Mashjari (traduction française : Julia C. Reinhart)

 

Avec l’attention du monde médiale centrée sur la lutte yéménite contre l’Al-Qaïda, vous seriez probablement pardonné de ne pas savoir que les Yéménites sont confrontés à la pire crise de la faim depuis le début des relevés. «Insécurité alimentaire», c’est le terme de plus en plus associée à Yémen, un pais qui autrefois était auto-suffisante, mais appauvris. En fait, plus de 44% de la population du Yémen se trouvera confronté à un manque de nourriture cette année même et l’ONU affirme que 5 millions des Yéménites sont considérés affectés «d’insécurité alimentaire extrême”. Les causes de cette crise se trouvent dans un manque de stabilité politique provoqué par la révolution pendant le “printemps arabe” en 2011, l’absence de contrôle et le plan au nom du gouvernement yéménite et l’incapacité des états donateurs comme les Etats-Unis au Yémen pour voir au-delà des “lunettes de terrorisme”.

 

À l’heure actuelle il est ineluctable: Le Yémen n’est plus au bord d’une crise alimentaire catastrophique, mais plutôt maintenant au milieu d’une catastrophe alimentaire. Oxfam, la confédération internationale des ONG pour combattre la pauvreté, en Septembre 2011 a averti que le Yémen était au point de rupture, aujourd’hui, on peut dire franchement que le Yémen a éclaté. Par exemple, dans Hodeidah et al Hajjaj, un enfant sur trois souffre de malnutrition, le double du niveau d’urgence standard. Alors que l’ONU estime que 267 000 enfants yéménites sont confrontés aux niveaux de malnutrition qui mettent leurs vies en danger. La crise alimentaire au Yémen présente plusieures problèmes aux Yéménites à travers les spectres politiques, économiques et sociaux. Ceux qui étaient déjà pauvres sont maintenant aux point de mourir, ceux considérés comme appartenant à une petite classe moyenne ont du mal à payer pour les nécessités de la vie, tandis que les riches et souvent élites trouvent qu’il est beaucoup plus facile de dépenser leur richesse. Mais il sont les enfants qui souffrent le plus de l’escalade des prix alimentaires au Yémen, en tant que les mères retirent leurs enfants de l’école pour les faire mendier dans les rues.

 

Mais la crise alimentaire au Yémen ne représente pas seulement une menace pour les Yéménites, mais encore plus important, il représente une menace pour les différents acteurs de la région et le reste du monde, allant de voisins riches en pétrole, comme l’ Arabie Saoudite aux États-Unis, des plus en plus preoccupies avec leurs propres intérêts. C’est parce que les Yéménites à travers le pays, mais particulièrement dans le Sud ont perdu la foi et la confiance dans leur gouvernement; au-delà de ce qu’ils sont maintenant désespérés pour tout le soutien de quiconque est prêt à les aider. Lorsque le gouvernement central est incapable de nourrir sa population, aider à réduire l’inflation et de rencontrer les plus élémentaires de sécurité, les organisations extrémistes comme Ansar al-Sharia monopolisent la dure réalité économique en fournissant le plus fondamental des besoins, y compris la nourriture et à son tour, gagner leur confiance. Bien pratique veut que ces opérations extrémistes sont quelque peu limitées aux zones les plus anarchiques du Yémen, le fait demeure que le gouvernement central semblent incapables, ne voulant pas et incapable de former une réponse globale à la catastrophe alimentaire immédiate.

 

La situation est aggravée par les centaines de milliers de personnes déplacées à l’intérieur de la partie sud d’Aden et d’Abyan à la suite de la guerre contre Al-Qaïda. Sans compter que dans le même temps, des dizaines de milliers de réfugiés de la Corne de l’Afrique arrivent sur les côtes du Yémen. L’envoyé de l’ONU au Yémen, Jamal Ben Omar a déclaré que la situation du Yémen est compliqué à plusieurs niveaux, chaque jour qui passe les complications continuer à combiner violemment au détriment des Yémenites les plus affamés.

 

Pour mettre la gravité de la question en contexte, 10 millions de personnes ont visité Londres cet été pour les Jeux Olympiques 2012, la même quantité qui mourira de faim cette année au Yémen. Mis à part la possibilité que le désespoir des gens puisse causer s’extrémisme, les conséquences humanitaires d’une telle catastrophe seront sans précédent dans la région arabe. Voici l’impératif de la réponse montée par la communauté internationale. Par exemple, le Royaume-Uni ont annoncé qu’ils fourniront £ 28 millions à la lutte contre la crise, mais ce toujours ce deçà de la 90m £ qu’ils ont promis. En outre, l’Union Européenne a commis des € 5 million supplémentaires, mais cela reste encore insuffisant. Bien que des sommes totalisant $ 4 milliards ont été promis lors de la réunion des Amis du Yémen en mai 2012, ces engagements doivent de toute urgence se materaliser et transformer en aide humanitaire tangible pour garder les gens en vie, car les gens ne peuvent pas survivre sur des promesses. Selon l’ONU, il faut $ 591 millions en aide pour répondre aux besoins actuels, mais il a reçu moins de la moitié de ce montant. Alors que la conférence prochaine des Amis du Yémen a été retardée pour un temps indéterminé, les donateurs doivent répondre maintenant, avant que la crise s’aggrave encore pire.

 

La communauté yéménite dans la diaspora a également joué un rôle actif pour aider à atténuer la crise. Jusqu’à présent, la communauté anglo-yéménite a réussi a envoyé 40 tonnes de nourriture, de vêtements et de médicaments pour aider les personnes déplacées à partir d’Abyan et a recueilli plus de £ 250,000 pour l’appel islamique de secours du Yémen. Suite à cela, le Forum Yémenite pour le Secours et Developpement, récemment créé comme organisme de bienfaisance parapluie au Royaume-Uni, a également lancé une campagne pour collecter des fonds pour l’aide alimentaire, mais son efficacité est limitée en raison du manque de couverture médiatique adéquate. Oxfam qui, le mois dernier, a publié un appel conjoint avec le Secours islamique de lever £ 38 millions pour l’aide d’urgence de 5 million personnes, a même admis que le cas du Yémen n’est pas émotionnellement suffisamment attrayants pour que les gens donnent de l’argent. Joy Singhal, le responsable de la réponse humanitaire d’Oxfam au Yémen a déclaré que «Ce n’est pas une crise comme le tsunami en Indonésie ou le tremblement de terre en Haïti. Yémen est l’un des deux ou trois pays arabes au Moyen-Orient considéré comme un pays à revenu intermédiaire domaine, car il n’est pas dans les médias ».

 

Avec le manque d’attention des médias, la communauté internationale et les organisations humanitaires n’ont pas d’autre choix que d’augmenter leurs efforts dans la lutte contre la crise alimentaire au Yémen, tout en veillant à ce qu’ils ne tombent pas dans le piège de considérer le Yémen dans le spectre de la sécurité. Le gouvernement «unité» nouvelle du Yémen est actuellement faible, en général un soutien international fait défaut, alors que les personalités du passé comme Ali Abdullah Saleh continuent de se tenir dans l’ombre, toute politique qui place le terrorisme et les questions de sécurité plus élevés que la situation humanitaire catastrophique ne serait pas seulement une catastrophe pour les populations affamées du Yémen, mais une catastrophe pour les intérêts de sécurité de la communauté internationale.

Free the Press

Even though my active involvement in news dissemination is fairly recent, the subject of freedom of the press has figured on my mind for many years. As a news consumer, I am affected by attempts of government and corporations to control the flow of information just as much, if not more, as is the journalist looking to report on a story.

As someone looking to be informed on current events I am dependent on reporters’ ability and legal headroom to pursue critical questions and report on facts and news that may not always please the powers that be. If journalists gets thwarted in their attempts to ask the tough questions I don’t get to know what I need to know to make a full and comprehensive judgement on that story. If I know where and how information is being controlled and withheld, such as a former communist regime’s own newspaper raining praise on the politbureau’s latest pronouncement while conveniently forgetting to mention that the plan is grossly underfunded, or an Arab state TV channel running endless footage of pro-government demonstrations in summer while there are currently no leaves on the trees, I can adjust my assessment and factor in those blind-spots. However, it gets tricky if I am presented with the semblance of a free press, that in fact is truly not. And any attempt to stand between me and the facts I do take personal.

In places like Syria suppression of the press is very much a matter of life or death. Local journalists who have dared to question the judgement of President Bashar al Assad have suddenly disappeared and were later found dead with their eyes gouged out; their bodies sending a simple, yet very unsubtle message. Foreign press is either kept out or closely monitored and restricted in what they are allowed to see. Reality is forced to subject itself not to what is, but what must be.

In America efforts to corral the press are less brutal, but the attempts to bend reality to a predetermined narrative still prevalent and important. Politicians want to project an image of their choosing and not have their true motives questioned or analyzed. Why else would GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich complain about the ‘elite media’ at every opportunity he gets? As dumb as John King’s question about extramarital affairs at the opening of a presidential debate hosted by CNN was, the forcefulness and vitriol of Gingrich’s response (video clip here) amounted to outright intimidation; and it worked. Rather than standing his ground and reminding Gingrich that it was he who had made personal character a campaign issue, King rolled over and moved on as quickly as he could; probably handing Gingrich his victory in the South Carolina primary.  As the saying goes, sausages and politics are best made out of sight; the outcome of both often equally difficult to stomach for the critical mind.

In the wake of 9/11 police forces, in fact every rent-a-cop in a uniform, have developed a habit of restricting access to public space whenever it countervened their perception of security, whether that restriction was reasonably justified or not. A gradual process at first, restrictions have become more pervasive and prevalent, the enforcement of the reprisals more blatant and brutal. On paper, the law still grants access to members of the media behind police lines and in private spaces to report on what is happening at crime scenes, protests, political events and much more. In reality however, in the same manner NYPD has tried to constrict protests to so called ‘free speech zones’, journalists have found themselves more and more pushed away, corralled into ‘press zones’ often outside the line of sight and far away from the actual events, making them reliant on what they hear rather than what they see. I can’t imagine that the founding fathers imagined creating a zoning law when they wrote the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Many reporters have struggled to get support from their management in pushing back on the subject, as corporate owners don’t want to jeopardize their close relationship to police and politicians. As far as news publishers go, no news became increasingly good news. Some publishers have threatened they would fire  journalists, should these choose to legally pursue their harassment at the hand of police. I know of at least two cases, but since the reporters involved don’t want to talk about this in public, I am not going to name their names.

This past Tuesday I attended a very interesting event at the New York Press Club on the subject of police suppression of the press. Over the course of the past ten years, journalists working in New York City have encountered increasing difficulties with gaining access to government officials, public information, crime scenes, and even public protests. Government buildings and the officials working in them, formerly easily accessible, now resemble fortresses, guarded by metal detectors and grumpy security guards with restrictive admission policies. NYPD tried to have the press room at their headquarters, from which journalists filed their reporting on police and crime related stories, removed from the premises, restricting access and the free flow of information between cops and reporters. Whistleblower cops, who shared information of internal misbehavior were locked away in mental institutions, smeared, and persecuted (the Village Voice has an extensive report on such a case here). The harassment and arrest of several credentialed journalists reporting from Occupy Wall Street protests since November 2011 have set an exclamation point on that issue; both implemented reportedly for the security of the reporters involved. No surprise then that the event was heavily oversold and passions were running high in the room.

Led by veteran reporter and former WCBS and WNBC anchor David Diaz, the panel also included Don Mathisen (City Limits magazine barred from interviewing students on a public sidewalk), Carla Murphy (freelance reporter arrested at OWS protest), Robert Stolarik (New York Times photographer harassed and ejected by police from an Occupy protest), Murray Weiss (New York Post and Daily News journalists reporting from inside NYPD headquarters for over 20 years), and Karen Keiser, attorney for the Associated Press.

A detailed account on who said exactly what can be found in my next post here. Meanwhile, I leave you with my key conclusions from that event:

1) A concerted effort of news publishers and reporters is needed to push back against the increasingly suppressive efforts of law enforcement authorities and politicians will bring an end to the tactics and to their ever increasing and forceful use. Norman Siegel, a civil rights attorney who was present that evening is currently looking for reporters to join his class action. Siegel mentioned he needs 16 or more cases to establish a pattern of systematic behavior to take NYPD to federal court on their transgressions. Reporters can file their information here with the New York Press Club, who is supporting Mr. Siegel’s efforts.

2) Journalists are angry at what’s been happening. I think the blatant mistreatment of their colleagues at Occupy Wall Street protests has crystalized the issue in many writers’ mind. There was much energy and passion in the group to do something, even though some worry that their employers won’t support their efforts. They will need reinforcement and encouragement to go through with their push back. We need this as much as they do.

3) Remember these immortal words by Edward R. Murrow: “A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.” — time we grew some claws.

Watchful Eyes No Longer See

  • February 23, 2012
It’s been a rough week for news reporters, the kind that goes out to unsafe places to report back to us on what they find. Veteran war correspondent Marie Colvin died yesterday, along with French photographer Remi Ochlik. The day before, Rami al-Sayed, one of the main sources of video material coming out of Baba Amr, was killed while filming yet another atrocity committed on his city by Assad forces. A week earlier, we lost Anthony Shadid, probably one of the most insightful writers on the Middle East in his generation. Reports from Afghanistan indicate Samid Khan Bahadarzai, a local journalist, was beheaded on Monday by members of the Haqqani network when he started to ask the wrong questions.
Sure, war reporters know the risk of their profession. Many of their colleagues have died before them. And, unfortunately, many will undoubtedly follow. Still, with each of their passing we loose yet another set of eyes into the world, eyes we need and rely upon to make sense of what is happening around us.
I have never had the privilege of meeting any of these journalists, but following their work has been an important part of my ongoing process of digging beneath the surface of current events, trying to understand what’s really going on on my quest to get a grasp of that elusive big picture. From the safety of my home I followed along on their journeys, seeing parts of the world and aspects of a story I would not encounter otherwise. Theirs were voices that did not engage in the daily chorus of breathless breaking news reporting. They often did break important stories, but took their time to piece together a thoughtful and contextualized report of circumstances and life on the ground in places many of us knew little about. With their help I wouldn’t get bogged down on minutiae of a story, but keep the larger context in mind as I followed a variety of new sources on the matter. They made me look when I didn’t really want to see, and had me pay attention to stories and events that truly matter. I am smarter for all the questions they have asked.
There are reports that Colvin and Ochlik were deliberately targeted by the Syrian army. Other news reporters operating in Homs, amongst them Stuart Ramsay from Sky News, have reported on having their satellite signals blocked when they tried to file their reports. Rami al-Sayed is said to have been tracked down by the cellphone signal of his livestream, one of the few ways we had the possibility to a real-time view of the situation in Homs. Last year I remember reading of a Syrian journalist who was found dead with his eyes gouged out. And then there was French reporter Gilles Jaquier, whose death by mortar round in Homs in January still leaves many open questions. Shooting the messenger is not a new phenomenon, but Assad’s forces seem to have elevated it to an art form, and according to an article in the Guardian, even declared it formal policy.
It is a confusing world out there, especially regarding Syria, given its wider implications for the region, and in particular, regarding the tensions surrounding Iran’s regional influence and its nuclear programs. I don’t always see all the pieces on that chess board, who is a proxy for whom exactly, and why are particular pieces being moved in any given way. Therefore, having reporters on the ground who can help me make sense of these questions is more important than ever. This is why the loss of such experienced voices like Colvin and Shadid, and even al-Sayed with his intimate knowledge of the people of Homs, is particularly devastating. It also explains why governments like the Assad regime really don’t want reporters around seeing anything but their approved version of reality, reiterating once more just why the work these journalists did was so important.
My heart goes out to the families of these reporters, who all have gone way before their time. Meanwhile we wander on, partially blinded, because their watchful eyes no longer see.
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