OPINION: The Silent Hunger Crisis in Yemen
Genocidal war, 14 million people at the risk of starvation, an undeniable humanitarian crisis: this is what it looks like to live in Yemen currently. In what has become the worst famine the country has seen in 100 years, millions of Yemeni’s are on the brink of famishment in the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, according to the Al-Jazzera. But where did it all begin? And more importantly, how can we help?
The Yemeni Civil war erupted in late 2014 after a rebel group, Al- Houthis, took control of the capital and dethroned the government, threatening Saudi Arabia as the regional hegemony. The Saudi-led coalition, in cooperation with the United States navy, stopped food and supplies from coming into Yemen through a naval blockade to halt the rebel group’s expansion.
Currently, the United States’ involvement in supplying Saudi-Arabia with military weapons is contributing to the genocidal war in Yemen, with their decision to help Saudi Arabia driven by the countries’s strong historical alliance. Specifically, Saudi Arabia provides the United States with natural resources such as oil, which, in turn, serves the US’s own self-interests.
This alliance has played a major role in escalating the crisis in Yemen, while not at all placing into consideration the humanitarian cost of its brutal action.
The United States, however, has not provided any resources to assist with the famine crisis, other than providing the Saudis with military weapons. Currently, Trump’s administration officials are supplying the Saudi’s with US military weapons to help retake Yemen’s main port from the Houthi rebels. The port, named Hodeidah, is where the majority of the global humanitarian aid for Yemen comes from.
Save the Children estimated that in November 2017 alone that 130 kids died due to extreme hunger and diseases, and there has already been at least 10,000 civilians killed from these causes as a result.
Yemen’s collapsing currency further intensifies the situation. People are living in sewages, and there is an overall lack of clean water. Hospitals are either closing or overflowing, and doctors have not been paid in months. In April 2017, Yemen was also hit with a severe cholera epidemic due to poor sanitation and lack of clean water, infecting more than half a million people in that year alone.
With this much civilian suffering in Yemen, it is important that the civil war and the US’s involvement in intensifying the situation is not ignored and for US citizens to find ways to help.
The United Nations have partnered with humanitarian groups to raise $2.96 billion to fund a plan to aid civilians in Yemen and allow commercial imports in which is seem to be the first action plan to counter the famine.
Professor Feryaz Ocakli, assistant professor of Political Science, mentioned that one f the ways US citizens can combat the famine in Yemen is by attracting attention to it. By letting people know that the US is directly supporting Saudi Arabia by providing it with weapons, “we can pressure American politicians to actually take a stance, at least to make their positions public.” Without a need to articulate their positions, there are multiple politicians in Congress that are simply going along with things.
By making the hunger crises in Yemen more public, reporting on it, and pressuring politicians to take a stand, we can advocate for the millions of citizens that are currently suffering. However, on the global scale, there is still much that can be done, by the international community, especially the United States. Whether they are willing to do more is another matter.