Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Arab region,though it is ranked 154 on the Human Development Index (HDI), which places among medium human development countries. Ever since reunification of the country in 1990 its relative position on the HDI index has remained steady, with very slow progress towards attaining the MDG goals. At 2.9%, the country has one of the highest population growth rates globally, with the population expected to double in 23 years to around 40 million. This increases the demand for educational and health services, drinking water and employment opportunities, as well as the already harsh environment, which will result in emerging new challenges as the result of climate change phenomena. Moreover, Yemen faces a severe water shortage, with available ground water being depleted at an alarming rate. The Yemeni economy is caught in a jobless slow growth cycle leading to stagnant per capita incomes and rising levels of unemployment, particularly amongst the youth and women.
Yemen officially known as the Republic of Yemen, is an Arab country located in Western Asia, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea to the south, and Oman to the east.
Yemen is one of the oldest centers of civilization in the Near East. Its capital and largest city is Sana'a. Yemen's territory includes more than 200 islands, the largest of which is Socotra, about 354 km (220 mi) to the south of mainland Yemen. It is the only state in the Arabian Peninsula to have a purely republican form of government. Yemen was the first country in the Arabian Peninsula to grant women the right to vote. Yemeni unification took place on 22 May 1990, when North Yemen was united with South Yemen, forming the Republic of Yemen.
In 2013, Yemen enters into the most critical phase of the Transition, marked by a series of overlapped processes to be achieved in just 12 months:
- implementation of the national dialogue process,
- development of a new national constitution,
- setting up of a legal framework for transitional justice,
- establishment of an independent institution for human rights,
- completion of the first phase of the electoral cycle and
- Accomplishment of structural reforms in the security sector.
This complex transition, aiming at establishing a new balance of power in Yemen, will take place in a context seriously affected by:
- insecurity, as a result of continued military clashes amongst the national army, Al Qaeda-affiliated groups and armed tribes in many areas of the country;
- severe humanitarian crisis, particularly in the South, aggravated by a massive movement of population from the Horn of Africa; and finally
- an increasing social demand for “peace dividends”.
Non-political factors like the drought, food insecurity and unemployment weaken the fragile transition. If these critical needs are not addressed immediately from a conflict prevention angle, the transitional process risks being seriously compromised. The immediate implementation of the Government’s Transitional Plan for Stability and Development (TPSD) constitutes also a key milestone in the road to a peaceful transition.