Today, innocent lives in Yemen continue to be lost not only as a result of the Yemen Civil War, but also the destruction of Yemen’s infrastructure from the exchange of attacks between Saudi-led opposition forces and Houthis forces. Below is a brief overview of the crisis along with links to more info and ways to support those impacted by the crisis.
Yemen is suffering from a major humanitarian crisis. It all originated in 2012 when the authoritarian Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, signed over the presidency to his Vice President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi in order to end the Yemeni Revolution (2011-2012). President Hadi struggled mitigating problems in the country such as corruption, unemployment, food insecurity, and attacks by militant groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Houthis, who have been fighting the Yemeni government since 2004.
The Houthi movement emerged as a response to President Saleh’s corruption and backing by both Saudi Arabia and the United States. In 2014-2015 the Houthis, unsatisfied with the transfer of power as it led to Yemen being split based on wealth, took control over the government in the capital of Sana’a with the support of Saleh and other governments loyal to him. President Hadi retreated to Aden where he continued to run a separate Yemeni government. This standoff between the Houthi and the Hadi-backed government led to the Yemeni Civil War that has still been going on since 2015. As a response, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt began military operations, such as airstrikes, against the Houthi rebels. Since then, the Houthis have been pushed out of southern Yemen, but they still occupy other parts of Yemen like Sana’a.
The combination of airstrikes and landmines have hindered access to clean water and sanitation, which not only led to the plethora of cholera and diphtheria outbreaks going on since 2017, but also a lack of water for livestock and agricultural purposes. Yemen normally imports most of its food from other countries due to the increasing desertification of its landscape due to climate change, but the Saudi Arabian-led blockade of goods into Yemen and the targeted destruction of farms, ports, and food storage areas has created Yemen’s mass starvation we see today.
Additionally, the airstrikes have displaced a lot of Yemeni people from their homes, forcing them to flee to overcrowded camps, which put them at high risk for disease outbreaks. One of the cities hosting the refugees, Marib, had recent flash flooding, putting them at high risk for another cholera outbreak and its high-density population of 750,000 has a large risk for getting the coronavirus. Because of the global economic implications of COVID-19, there has been a huge decline in funding for medical aid and a lot of the aid received has been intercepted by Houthi forces, preventing them from reaching civilians that need it.
Finding a Safe Haven
Some Yemeni who were able to flee the country have found refuge in Oman, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Ethiopia. However, many still remain in need of assistance and will continue to do so as there has yet to be a resolution to the crisis and various countries continue to ignore the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, including the US.
How are we a part of this problem? The US, France, and UK have been involved in the Middle East since before WWII and still continue to sell weapons to countries in the Middle East such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Out of an estimated population of about 30 million people:
80% of the population need humanitarian assistance and protection
18 million do not have enough clean water or adequate sanitation
1+ million cases of cholera since 2018, with 25% associated with children
7 million children are out of school, putting them at risk for exploitation and abuse
2 million children are malnourished
Distributes medication and supplies, rehabilitates water sources to provide quality water and sanitation sources, and implements nutrition programs for the malnourished
Provides basic health services, clean water, and treats malnutrition
Provides health, nutrition, water, sanitation services, delivers drugs and medical supplies to hospitals, improves access to education, and trains staff on cholera treatment