“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” – Hellen Keller
“Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere.” – Elie Wiesel
The year of 2018 is being called “‘the worst for humanitarian crises’” since World War II.(1)
In the midst of this, the aim of development organisations and the important work they do is to alleviate this suffering as much as possible and bring hope to the innocent civilians unfairly affected.
The following Middle Eastern countries have been in turmoil for years, battling war, hunger, and disease. Not enough has been done to stop these conflicts and it will be up to both development organisations and the international community to help realise a breakthrough.
The Syrian conflict has now entered its 7th year and President Bashar al-Assad is still in power. Over 6 million Syrians are displaced, while over 5 million are refugees, living outside of the country.(2) The Syrian people have also had to withstand the use of chemical weapons and attacks by their own government. Furthermore, many refugees are still stuck in countries like Greece and Turkey, barred from entering Northern Europe.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not usually included in articles about humanitarian crises, but this year, with the United States’ decision to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move its embassy there, the situation has truly taken a turn for the worse. Since the embassy’s opening, dozens of Palestinians have been killed, while hundreds of others have been injured.(3) Unfortunately, the Israeli and U.S. governments have refused to take responsibility for the attacks, blaming the events on Hamas.(4)
The Yemeni conflict is especially unfortunate, considering that one of their fellow Gulf neighbors, Saudi Arabia, initiated it and has now, along with its coalition partners, pushed the Yemeni population into famine.(5) Due to the coalition restricting food and fuel imports, the prices of these crucial items have risen, causing poor Yemenis to suffer from malnutrition. Over 8 million out of a population of almost 30 million are starving, while hundreds of thousands of children suffer from acute malnutrition.(6)
To help alleviate these crises this year, development organisations should focus more closely on the following issues:(7)
– Working on increasing political will to solve conflict and welcome refugees. Dealing with the political climate is especially important when it comes to Palestine.
– Going beyond immediate humanitarian solutions and thinking more in the long-term to resolve conflict in a more sustainable manner. This also includes changing the way funding is being conducted. Yemen’s battle with malnutrition should be at the forefront of efforts to alleviate the conflict.
– How to go about repairing war-torn cities efficiently, while strengthening war-affected communities. Syrians, both inside and outside of the country, should be included in the discussion on how to rebuild their nation.
– Strengthening the use of international humanitarian law.
– Preparing for more innovative threats, such as cyber-attacks.
In conclusion, this year does not have to end as gloomy or as bleak as it began, there is strength in numbers and always hope that the Middle East’s citizens can rise above all of these hardships.
**The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.**