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Yemeni Civil War and Solar Energy - Atahan Tümer

Yemen has been the center of a bloody civil war since March 2015. It can even be said that this civil war is one of the bloodiest civil wars human history has ever seen. The war, in which many different groups were involved, caused many tragedies. So much so that even the most basic needs could not be met from time to time during the war. This situation has had an extra impact on Yemen, where poverty and poor living standards prevail. From a broad perspective, the war takes place between three main groups: Iranian-backed groups, Saudi-backed groups, and Jihadist Salafist groups. However, the fact that almost everything in this war is based on capturing strategic resources makes him even more inhuman. This is the most crucial reason behind the emergence of the humanitarian crises we see. So much so that there were hunger crises from time to time in Yemen. Outbreaks such as cholera are also at the top of the problems affecting the country. The Covid-19 virus, which affects the whole world, has the highest mortality rate per case in Yemen. This shows us the state of the health system in the country. From time to time, there were even situations where water was not available in hospitals.

The decrease observed in global economic aid due to the financial crisis in the world also affected the country very badly. According to the reports of the United Nations, 80% of the country requires aid.

After the start of the war, an energy crisis broke out in the country. Yemen was not a prosperous country in energy before the war, either. Yemen had the lowest electricity access rate in the Middle East, according to World Bank data. Access to electricity was 40%. It should not be forgotten that this rate is 40%, primarily thanks to the cities, and the rural areas are in much worse condition. Although Yemeni governments have developed projects for years to increase this rate, it cannot be said that significant improvements have been made. This situation in access to electricity only got worse after the war started. Already experienced power outages have become the usual situation. People were worried about the power outage created by the Houthis in the capital at the beginning of the civil war. The fact that currently available generators work with petroleum-based resources has led people to look for alternatives. Renewable energy sources came to the fore as the most important alternative. The most important and popular of these was solar energy.

Solar energy has become a kind of primary energy source since the civil war. Due to the situations mentioned earlier, especially strategic places such as hospitals have started to use solar energy. So much so that some sources call this transition a solar energy revolution. However, it would not be correct to say that the situation is very revolutionary. Because the transition that emerged was not optional, it was a transition that occurred in order to meet energy needs. Indeed, after the war started, Yemen began importing vast quantities of solar panels. These panels, specially imported from India and China, have become a strategic product by meeting a significant amount of energy needs. Because of this situation, it became vital to control the ports. This proves how effective solar panels have in meeting the energy needs of the country.

Yemen also has 3 billion barrels of oil reserves. Although this feature of Yemen is not as prominent as other Arab countries, it is a situation that should not be forgotten in the evaluations. We should remember that the oil consumption of Yemen, which has such a vast reserve, is also very low. Yemen's oil reserves are 129 times higher than oil consumption.

This shows us the inequality in the country and the backwardness in energy consumption.

Civil wars, of course, bring about humanitarian crises. Women and children are most affected by this. In conflicts like this, where even the most basic human needs are not met, solar energy panels the size of a book become a luxury. While every person needs to drink liters of water a day, even reaching a drop of water becomes a daily challenge. This reveals the scale of the tragedy happening in Yemen. I hope the war in Yemen will come to an end and the humanitarian crisis will be resolved. It seems that this will only occur when the world's attention is drawn to Yemen.


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