Speech by Mrs. Tawakkol Karman at High-level Event on Food Crises hosted by European Commission - Brussels

Dear friends and participants in this international meeting to launch the global report on Food Crises 2019, I really appreciate your noble endeavors in convening this global gathering that marks a promising juncture of global efforts mobilized and coordinated within a global network seeking to address food crises and explore all available means to make the best of such efforts and push them to levels that are more effective.

Dear sisters and brothers, 
Of course, this event brings together, among others, a number of friends specialized in fields related to global food crises and in various disciplines and areas of different concerns, and we will listen to them for sure. Let me, however, remind you that the global food crises are neither routine nor usual, and that there is no way to understand them without adopting a broad view that would help us recognize interrelationships among these crises and global order and the world’s economic interests and trends that pay little attention to food and famine crises facing humanity. 
In fact, the world is not short of food, or let say food shortage at least is primarily not the root cause of crises of hunger, food shortages and starvation that reached record levels last year. Rather, the world is short of justice, democracy and good governance.
Millions of human beings in today's world have nothing to eat, and whoever claims that their problem lies in the population increase is actually blaming them for their presence in a ruthless world. Such claim is only a psychological violence and crude luxury resulting from shortage of human compassion. Not to mention that this claim is neither logical nor true, at least in the context in which it has been made. 
We are living at a time when food crises have coincided with severe crises resulting from political tyranny and dictatorships that have wasted their peoples' resources, with armed conflicts, with a small minority controlling over the world economy and with major powers’ interests dominating today’s world. In such circumstances, it would be neither logical nor acceptable to focus on demographic factors such as population growth, depletion of farmland, soil degradation, climate change, urbanization and scarcity of resources and possibilities.
However, summoning up this matrix of reasons expressed in academic and sophisticated language to millions of people finding themselves in the open without shelter, food and income source as a result of State collapses and the wars waged by those who have exclusive power would be seen as a soft hostile behavior that blames victims and submits that this is the best possible life.
 It is a behavior aimed to convince victims that their starvation is a normal condition caused by uncontrollable natural factors, or that a long-term routine process of work is needed to make a difference. But until that moment, victims will have been exhausted, dehumanized and distributed among cemeteries, and death and hunger belts will have been surrounding shantytowns and concentrations of the hungry.      
For sure, there are certainly global pilot initiatives to address food crises, in addition to a global network of international organizations and personalities and diverse actors working in this humanitarian field, and our meeting here is the result of this global solidarity that brings food crises into focus. 
The persistence of this global network to address the global food crisis is the cornerstone of its development and expansion. It is important to emphasize the contributions of global relief and the need to provide food aid to millions of needy in conflict areas and develop this global humanitarian aid network.
However, when looking at food crises from a comprehensive perspective there is clearly a need to look for the root causes of food crises that have a severe impact and have led to the collapse of state systems, services and business sectors in areas of conflict where people find themselves facing complex problems. Among these problems is the lack of food, which calls for urgent measures to be taken to counteract its adverse effects.
The state collapse sends millions of people into the open to face their fate in total absence of all forms of protection. Humanitarian aid does not offer a radical solution, but it emerges as an international humanitarian duty when states collapse, wars break out and famine spreads.

Dear sisters and brothers, 
I am from Yemen; a country that is going through the most severe food crisis in the world today. I will have to show you our relevant experience in Yemen and the severe suffering of our people after four years of war.
Our case is only an example of bitter experiences witnessed in the region where some states have collapsed as a result of their authoritarian regimes’ resistance to democratic change, which in turn led to popular uprisings eight years ago.
At the beginning of our pro-democracy revolution in February 2011, we faced a great challenge when the dictator clearly threatened in his speeches, saying: change would lead to “somalization” of Yemen. 
He threatened his people with the fate of Somalia, which collapsed in the early 1990s and entered into civil strife and famine before it began to recover recently. It was clear through this threat that he wanted people to choose between security and dictatorship. This logic was the case for all tyrannical regimes: either stability or democracy. 
But we say that democracy, stability and food security are closely linked. Armed conflicts in Yemen and the Arab Spring countries are nothing but a punishment against peoples for demanding democracy and change.
For four years, Yemen has been living a devastating war waged by the Saudi-UAE coalition under the pretext to help the legitimate government restore power. Nevertheless, this coalition and the Houthi putschists have reduced our country to rubble, where people has been suffering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. 
We are certain that facing the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is inseparable from the support for our aspirations for democracy and the rule of law, which represents the key objective of the February 11 revolution.
The support of the West’s civilized democracies for tyrannical regimes must stop, as these regimes do not ensure stability but rather fuel destabilizing factors, as clearly evidenced by decades of dictatorship in our Arab region.

Dear friends, 
Our own experiences tell us that the tyranny has deprived us of both democracy and development. The Seizure and monopoly of power have impoverished our societies and wasted their resources.
Our harsh experiences deepen our faith in democracy, human rights and their imperative, and that the life without them is unfeasible. The deprivation of the right to a decent living has strongly manifested itself in tyranny systems of the Arab Spring countries. Elections, democracy and parties have become empty words.
The media has been infiltrated, political parties have been spawned and parallel human rights organizations have been created under the banner of Civilization, while in fact all this was employed to serve tyranny and its policies, constrain the fake pluralism and allow continued control over power, state, wealth, force and influence under modern names devoid of substance.
The consequence is that the tyrannical regimes along with their societies have reached an impasse. Therefore, popular uprisings were a natural response to the failure of flexible and gradual transition to democracy and to the failure of development. The absence of the rule of law and a democratic system is a problem being inseparable from poverty and food crises.
The dictatorship has accomplished nothing. Frills of democracy were used to cover the tyranny that has made republics be hereditary, has not brought development to societies, has not provided modern education to peoples and has not developed economic infrastructure. It has done nothing but render the vast majority of peoples impoverished, produce worse living conditions lacking in a minimum standard of decent life.  

Dear sisters and brothers, 
As much as we need the world to help us provide food assistance to cope with the threat of famine, we need it to help us put an end to the war and restore the state so as to complete democratic transition process.
Without the world focusing the root causes of the Yemeni problem, dealing with our problem from one single angle will result in reducing it to its humanitarian dimension, which will provide the food crisis with all causes needed to turn into a sustainable famine that threatens more people to starve to death.

Hunger and food crises strengthen our faith in democracy and human rights, despite the fact that the tyrants have abused democracy and human rights and have tried to present them as slogans that have nothing to do the lives of people and have not stopped their rights violators who are responsible for restrictions imposed on their right to a decent living and freedom of expression. 
The Arab Spring revolutions, which have collided with locally, regionally and globally interconnected tyrannical regimes, are, indeed, a great scream driven by the burning desire to live under democratic systems. They aspire to governments showing respect for their people, meeting their necessary needs, improving the quality of life, recognizing that the citizens are the source of power and have the right to decide its destiny, have the right to work and access to employment, health services. Moreover, citizens have the right to know how public institutions and everything related to public affairs are managed, how decisions are made and what criteria, information and trade-offs are followed to take such decisions related to their life and destiny.

I welcome all of you and appreciate you for your noble humanitarian efforts exerted to deal with the world food crises and for a world of interdependence, solidarity and great respect for human values.