“In 2018 we will celebrate 40 years of co-operation between The Netherlands and Yemen. In 1978 the Netherlands started its first programmes of development co-operation in the then Arabic Republic of Yemen. After the unification of the two Yemen’s in 1990, the co-operation was also extended to what was formerly known as South Yemen.
Over the years, the Netherlands has contributed to numerous programmes, in particular in the fields of health – including a training school for midwives, water management, primary education and women empowerment. Many of these programmes were implemented in close co-operation with central and local government structures. Up to today, the relations between The Netherlands and Yemen are excellent.
When the war started in 2015, the Dutch staff of the Netherlands embassy in Sana’a had to leave the country; however, a large part of our programmes continue. The Dutch staff members are working from The Hague and our very dedicated Yemeni staff is working in Sana’a. Our implementing partner organizations, mostly now UN and INGO’s, do all they can to keep the programmes going despite the difficult circumstances. Thus, we can keep on supporting the Yemeni population.
In order to meet the needs of the Yemeni people during the ever-changing conflict, we have needed to adapt. For example, our health and water programmes adapted to handling the cholera crisis, so there is now more focus on water and sanitation (WASH) instead of management of large water schemes.
We obviously also have a strong emphasis on ending the current political crisis and respect for human rights. The Netherlands supports the UN envoy for Yemen in its efforts to restart peace negotiations because there is no military solution to the conflict. Parties need to come back to the negotiation table as soon as possible.
In the meantime, we work with Yemeni men, women and youth to prepare for those times through inclusive local peacebuilding and mediation initiatives, in an attempt to avoid further fragmentation of communities. We also provide technical and financial support to the National Human Rights Commission and OHCHR in monitoring and reporting human rights violations – in line with the resolution recently adopted by the Human Rights Council.
In our infographic you will find a current snapshot of the work of the Netherlands in Yemen. The Netherlands and Yemen have a strong partnership, also in these difficult times. We certainly have not forgotten about Yemen and its incredibly strong people.
I had the honor of working in Yemen between 2002 and 2005. I worked in particular with civil society and women’s organizations, which fought hard for inclusiveness and participation of women at all levels and all aspects of society. I remember very well the determination and strength of my Yemeni counterparts, their passion and hard work. Many of the men and women I worked with are abroad now, working from there to end the crisis and for the same goal of an inclusive future Yemeni society. We will continue supporting them!
The population of Yemen has suffered enough and it is time to start rebuilding the country. I personally hope the war will be over soon, so that we can return to Yemen, re-open our embassy and work towards a just, peaceful and prosperous Yemen.