The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has unfortunately been overshadowed by a warfront in Syria and the plight of refugees in Europe. The politics and players seem similar. Yet the suffering of innocent Yemenis trapped in a violent battle, receives very little attention on international media.
“An entire generation could be crippled by hunger”
The gravity of the situation in Yemen is highlighted, by the fact that about 80 percent of the country’s population is in dire need of humanitarian assistance. The UN World Food Programme has been providing food to more than 3 million people each month since February, but is struggling to keep up. The organization has now split the rations, so it can reach 6 million people every month.
“An entire generation could be crippled by hunger,” Torben Due, the program’s director in Yemen, said in a statement.
Yemen is one of the poorest Arab nations in the world. With the current crisis, more than two million people have been displaced and over 10,000 killed. Yet, the international community is dangerously silent about this war that has been going on since 2015.
The conflict began after a failure of the political transition, that was to come after the forced removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in November 2011. Power was handed over to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. A new government under President Hadi failed to address several economic and sectarian issues the country had been facing, which resulted in a rebellion and subsequent exile of the President by the Houthi Rebels.
Unlike the rebel groups in Syria, the Shia Minority Houthis of Northern Yemen are well organized and have a clear agenda.
In 2013, they adopted Khomeini’s slogan, “Death to the US, death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam”. A spokesperson for the Houthis explained that their movement is demanding a democratic and modern Yemen. Yet, they are known for torture, abducting civilians and deploying child soldiers.
The country is today engaged in a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Sunni Kingdom of Saudi was alarmed when President Hadi fled the country in May 2015, leaving their neighbor to be governed by a Shia govenment. As the rebellion was backed by Shia majority Iran, Saudi Arabia called upon their western allies and launched a full scale military attack on Houthi territory. So far, they have successfully restored Hadi’s government in key cities like Aden and Marib.
The Islamic State are also taking advantage of the situation in Yemen. Yesterday, they detonated a suicide bomb, killing about 48 Yemeni soldiers in Aden. A similar attack was conducted by them in August, taking the lives of about 70 people.
But a disconcerting issue with Yemen is the international community’s stark ignorance towards the crisis in this country. Perhaps, a fear of angering the largest oil exporting nation has forced a veil over the eyes of Saudi allies.
For example, though the US has condemned Saudi air strikes targeting civilians, at the same time, US forces have flown more than 1,600 refueling missions, as of late November – which has directly helped Saudi Arabian army to conduct air strikes on Yemen.
The UK, another ally to Saudi Arabia, is also involved in this genocide. As per a report in The Guardian, ‘cluster bombs’ manufactured in the UK were found to be used in Yemen by Saudi Arabian army.
The Dublin Convention on Cluster Munitions signed in 2008, prohibits the development, production, stockpile, sale or transfer of Cluster based explosives. As of April 2016, the treaty was signed and ratified by 100 nations, including the UK.