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Understanding the critical conditions in Yemen

BY: Qudsia Saeed

Yemen is suffering from one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The nation teeters on the verge of extinction as it struggles to fight the threats imposed by a cholera epidemic, disastrous famine, and an ongoing civil war, all of which are further exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic

In 2011, the Houthis, a politically driven Shia rebel group, began protesting against the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and his unfair treatment of the religious minority group. Chaos ensued due to these uprisings, and President Saleh was forced to give his position of power to his VP, Abdarabuh Mansur Hadi. A new federal system was agreed upon under Hadi’s presidency, however, it failed tremendously, leading to political instability, further fueled by violence and anger. This failure resulted in Hadi fleeing to Saudia Arabia where he formed a coalition against the Houthis advancements.

The civil war erupted in March of 2015, when the Saudi-led military coalition, consisting of the US, the UK, and France, launched a devastating airstrike bombing Houthi-occupied territories across Yemen, causing mass civilian casualties. An external motivation for Saudia Arabia to escalate the violence was that Houthis were receiving military aid from Iran, who were simultaneously involved in a proxy war with Saudia for control of the region and its resources. While Saudia Arabia has used Iran’s support of Houthis to justify the conflict, the United States has used Al Qaeda’s presence to justify aiding the war crimes by sending weapons, aircraft, and other equipment, as well as decreasing aid to Yemen despite pleas and pressure from international humanitarian organizations.

Five years of brutal war have collapsed the economy and destroyed the infrastructure entirely, making it impossible to access education and healthcare services. These conditions have been escalated by the coronavirus pandemic, which is spreading across the nation at an alarming rate while medical facilities such as testing and treatment remain unsubstantial. Malnutrition, dehydration, and the lack of clean water and available hygiene make the Yemini citizens more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus. To make matters worse, Houthis and Saudis continue to use food as a weapon of war, pushing the entire country to the brink of starvation and hunger.

Here are some statistics to put the severity of the situation into perspectives:

● UNICEF reports that one child dies every 10 minutes in Yemen.

● The UN reports that about 60% of Yemeni citizens, roughly 20.1 million, are food insecure.

● More than 3 million people have been displaced, and millions are trapped.

● 24 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance,

● In 2018, Save the Children reported that an estimated 85,000 children under the age of five died from starvation alone.

● Also in 2018, NY Times reported 1.8 million children were severely malnourished.

● Recently, in March of 2020, UNICEF estimated that 2 million children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition and require critical treatment.

The media coverage of this humanitarian crisis is minimal and overshadowed by ongoing conflicts in the middle east, but this requires immediate attention and outrage across the globe. Yemenis deserve better, and the heart-wrenching images of young children crying for help shouldn’t be normalized nor overlooked, but rather addressed.

*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.


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