United Nations Human Rights Council

Countries: Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Yemen

Topic A: Effectively addressing the humanitarian crisis in Yemen

The focus in will be on the  three main areas of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen: access to food, medicine, and clean water. According to the UN’s coordinator for Yemen, Yemen is facing the worst man-made famine in the last 100 years of human history with 14 million people (half the population of Yemen) at risk of starvation. The famine has been caused by inflated prices due to the instability in the country as it battles a brutal civil war, and the subsequent rapid depreciation of the Yemeni Rial which hit its lowest point in September 2018 (when the economic crisis began). To aid poverty-stricken families the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the capital Sana’a has proposed to provide cash, even though this is not a sustainable solution.

In addition to economic chaos and starvation, the country’s health facilities have also collapsed, with less than half still functioning in some capacity. As a consequence of this, in December 2017 a cholera epidemic put millions at risk, with 2 million victims in Sana’a alone. A key factor in this is the lack of access to clean water, as only half of the population currently has access to clean water, and crops in the Sana’a region are irrigated with  cholera contaminated water facilitating the spread of the disease. It should be noted that in an estimated 10 years scientists expect Sana’a to run dry, which means that any resolution to the water crisis must take into account long-term measures and a dwindling supply, as well as the effects of the civil war ravaging the country on Yemeni society and relief efforts.

Topic B: Responsibility in relation to overseas refugee camps

By the end of 2017, the UNHCR recorded 25.4 million refugees across the globe, the highest number ever recorded. Refugee camps around the world are consequently under great pressure, especially overseas refugee camps, which act as a safe haven with a physical protecting border being a body of water. The construction of these camps is usually a collaborative effort by the UNHCR, NGOs and the government of the host country, each having its own responsibility. Unfortunately, the three organizations do not always act as required, in some cases violating the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees. Generally speaking, host countries are reluctant to facilitate the inclusion of refugees into their own society as they are viewed as competitors to local citizens for resources such as medical services, jobs and food. Because of this host countries have been slow with allocating refugees to the mainland. Thus, overseas refugee camps are now designed for only the emergency phase of refugees; the intake of them, and later leave refugees stranded in these camps, resulting in the camps being over-crowded. It is therefore crucial for this to be addressed and re-discussed resulting in a more effective organization of overseas refugee camps.