The Southern Transitional Council (STC) has announced a state of emergency in Aden in response to catastrophic floods in the city and surrounding areas. The situation on the ground is dire and requires an urgent international humanitarian response: the floods have already cost the lives of civilians, including many children.
We have mobilised our resources on the ground, with STC teams coordinating the relief operations in response to today’s dreadful events. We are working with aid agencies to ensure support gets to those in most need. And Southern forces have been directed to assist those wounded and to start a clear-up operation. But our resources are limited. The dire humanitarian situation on the ground, including a further outbreak of cholera, requires direct international support.
We appreciate that the global focus is on COVID-19 getting the pandemic under control. This has created constraints on humanitarian budgets. But today’s tragedy in Aden only compounds an already precarious situation. As the UN humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, warned the Security Council last week, the consequences of COVID-19 alone could bring Yemen to the brink of famine. Marginalised communities such as those in the South, cannot combat crises on three fronts: conflict, pandemic and floods.
Today’s tragic events come against a backdrop of ongoing lack of basic services in South Yemen. While the Yemeni government has remained absent from Aden, civil servants across many institutions have not received their salaries, with ongoing electricity black outs, unhealthy sanitation levels, and lack of food and medicine supplies. This punishment of the South by the government is a norm that we have endured for decades. But it is a status quo that can no longer be tolerated by the Southern people.
We need urgent support to manage the consequences of both flooding and COVID-19. But we also need to create the conditions for good governance so that we can ourselves manage future crises. For that, we need a durable and fair political solution to the conflict in Yemen. Today’s tragic events in Aden must be a wake-up call that any negotiated settlement must include the South. Only a truly inclusive and comprehensive political approach will deliver a deal that can address the acute needs on the ground, including humanitarian, economic and security.
Southern Transitional Council
General Department of Foreign Affairs