The media might be fixated on Donald Trump, environmental crises, and the potential for nuclear war, but that doesn’t mean the people of Yemen and their struggle for survival should be ignored.
For the past three years, Yemen has been the setting for a bloody war between the Houthi rebels and supporters of the nation’s internationally recognized government. When Houthis took control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, in 2014, a coalition of Arab states launched a military campaign to defeat the rebels and restore the original government. As of March 2018, over 10,000 Yemenis have been killed by the fighting. And, more than 40,000 casualties have been incurred.
Many of those who are caught in the war are women and children. According to the foundation Save the Children, approximately 50,000 children perished in 2017. That’s about 130 every single day. The UN claims that the Saudi-led coalition air attacks have caused nearly two-thirds of reported civilian deaths. The Houthis have also been accused of causing mass civilian casualties during sieges.
With no end in sight to the war, the United Nations aid chief is now urging the Saudi-led military coalition that is in charge of Yemen’s ports to expedite the import of valuable supplies, including food, fuel, and medicine. If they do not, the organization warns that another 10 million Yemenis could starve to death by the end of the year.
Right now, some 8.4 million people are severely short of food and at risk of starvation. The Saudi Coalition, which imposed a blockade on Yemeni ports near the end of last year to prevent rebels from acquiring weapons, is preventing aid from entering the country. Even before the war, Yemen imported 90 percent of its food.
“If conditions do not improve, a further 10 million people will fall into this category by the end of the year,” said Mark Lowcock, U.N. emergency relief coordinator. “I call on the Government of Yemen, with the support of the Coalition, to take active steps to boost commercial imports of food, fuel and humanitarian supplies through all Yemen’s ports.”
As Reuters reports, Yemen is one of the world’s poorest countries. The UN estimates that more than 22 million people in the country (out of 25 million) need humanitarian assistance.
There is a desperate need for medicine, as well as food. The high death toll triggered a major cholera outbreak. With the ongoing rainy season, the disease is expected to re-emerge.
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Image Credit: Flickr, Rod Waddington