Country Highlights: Yemen & Syria
Part VII of a series on TPS
Missed the last blog?
There is a renewed hope for those in the United States under Temporary Protected Status. There are three acts proposed in congress, the Dream Act, the SECURE Act of 2017, and the Temporary Protected Status Reform Act of 2017, all of which aim to create a more stable permanent solution to TPS.
Yemen and Syria are the most recent countries granted TPS, and receive it due to armed conflict in both regions. Though TPS for Yemen and Syria are not set to expire soon, it is nevertheless important to understand why they continue to receive TPS and recognize the intricacies and uniqueness of the man-made crises each country faces.
- 24 million Yemenis are food insecure
- 8 million live in areas directly affected by conflict
- 1 million are in need of humanitarian assistance
- 8 million are forcibly internally displaced
The Yemen Civil War stems from popular anti-government uprisings during the Arab Spring in 2011. Amid the uprisings President Saleh was forced to sign his powers over to Vice President Hadi, due to mounting pressure from the US, UK, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to step down after he led violent crackdowns on the demonstrations. The transition of leadership was meant to bring stability to Yemen. However, this was hindered due to government corruption, high unemployment, food insecurity, military officers remaining loyal to Saleh, and attacks by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The Houthi Movement took advantage of the Hadi government’s weakness, and seized large portion of Yemen, forcing Hadi to flee the country in March of 2015.
Foreign powers led by Saudi Arabia launched offensive interventions to support the Hadi government against the Houthi Rebel Movement, who aligned with Saleh’s loyalists. In the midst of infighting, the Islamic State (ISIS) entered Yemen and fought for control over regions. The civilian population has suffered immensely from direct violence carried out by all sides.
Since the violence broke out in 2015, several UN-led peace talked and cease fires have failed to halt the civil war. The war has resulted in one of the largest man-made humanitarian crises in the world.
- 470,000 dead from conflict
- 1 million internally displaced
- 8 million seeing refuge abroad
- 1 million people living in besieged areas without access to humanitarian aid
Like Yemen, Syria’s conflict stems from the Arab Spring when school children were arrested for drawing anti-government graffiti on a school in Daraa. The arrests resulted in huge anti-government demonstrations. The Assad government used deadly force to crackdown on the demonstrations, resulting in the death of dozens and triggering nationwide protests.
As the uprising continued, Assad’s crackdown intensified, resulting in flagrant human rights violations. The mounting opposition began to take up arms throughout the country to both defend themselves, and to expel government security forces from their region. The violence quickly escalated, resulting in a civil war, which left a power vacuum allowing the ISIS to gain territory and power in Syria.
Assad government forces, ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other non-state armed groups are responsible for systematic and wide-spread violations of human rights, including targeting civilian with artillery, kidnapping, executions, use of child soldiers, torture, rape, and unlawful blocking of humanitarian aid. This war has created the largest refugee crisis since World War II and has torn apart the region.
Humanitarian aid is increasingly inaccessible in both Syria and Yemen, due to the volatility in the region as conditions continue to worsen. It is vital to continue to provide an escape from the violence for Yemenis and Syrians here under TPS. Please call your legislators to encourage them to sign on to an act to create a permanent solution for TPS.
*Most recent statistics available, likely to change
Country Highlight: Nepal – coming January 12th