Humanitarian Aid and War Economies: The Case of Yemen

Moosa Elayah, Matilda Fenttiman


Although humanitarian aid (HA) is desperately needed in Yemen to cope with the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, few studies have analyzed the effect of these grants. This article provides such an analysis using 34 interviews of NGO directors and staff members in Yemen. The interviews were conducted in an open format, to enable interviewees to express all their ideas on the HA situation in Yemen, not just ones that solely fit into the frame and questions of this study. Our empirical analysis indicates that the ability of local NGOs to use and deliver supplies to those suffering is severely constrained. This is mainly due to looting by conflicting factions, corruption, and the absence of the international deterrent that obliges the conflicting parties to preserve human rights. Furthermore, this study indicates that HA is being used as a weapon of war for power and financial gain, and thus is a contributing factor in the continuation of the conflict. This means it is important that international donors explore alternative solutions to effectively deliver and distribute HA in fragile states.

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