Yemen, which is the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula, has been devastated by war, famine, and mass destruction of infrastructure due to the proxy war between the Saudi-UAE-US-UK-led coalition and Iran-backed Houthi rebels. Approximately 3.5 million Yemeni civilians are in critical need of food and humanitarian aid. This Saudi-Iranian conflict in Yemen has resulted in mass starvation, destruction of clean water supply, Cholera outbreak, malnourished children, displaced civilians, and the death of over ten thousands civilians.
Since 2015, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), approximately 22.2 million people were in need of life-saving assistance like food, safe water, nutritional support, and basic medical care.
Doctors without Borders reported that Yemen’s health care system collapsed and over half of the country’s medical facilities were closed. Many others are unable to provide care due to being damaged by airstrikes or lacking in medical personnel and supplies. Airstrikes, landmines, and snipers are often preventing civilians from seeking medical help, leading to deaths from preventable diseases. Since the airstrikes have destroyed clean water supplies, there have been 101,475 cases of Cholera, the largest cholera epidemic in the world. UNICEF reports that every ten minutes, one child in Yemen dies from malnutrition. Yemeni children, most of whom are malnourished, die from diseases that could be prevented by mere vaccination.
Sea, air and land blockades led by Saudi Arabia causes significant harm to food imports into the country. The Head of WFP called for new entry points for humanitarian and commercial food imports. He stated, “time is running out for aid agencies in Yemen to prevent this country from slipping into a devastating famine.”
Ironically, earlier this year Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have very publicly donated $930 million to Yemen. Yet, the Saudi Defense Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who ultimately orchestrated this humanitarian crisis, have not taken any action to end the blockades. Reportedly, Saudi intelligence thought weaponry was being smuggled into Yemen for the Houthi rebels and cut off all entry and exit points to aid and access to the country’s most important ports which led to increased food prices and lack of much needed medical supplies for the healthcare system. Since the Saudi-led 2015 blockade, the economy collapsed and civilians in Yemen have suffered through terrible conditions due to scarce amounts of water, food, and medicine. And it’s only getting worse every day.
This isn’t a new trend, the Saudi-Iranian conflict has led to devastating proxy wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Lebanon, and Bahrain. Almost in every conflict in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Iran back groups fighting each other and make matters worse. This decades-old rivalry between Saudis and Iranians have led to conflicts in almost every major Muslim country in the world.
Though Saudis and Iranians are the faces of this devastating war in Yemen, there is plenty of blame to go around. The United States and the United Kingdom play a vital role in the destruction of Yemen by supplying bombs, military strategy, military training, heavy artillery weapons, and refueling the planes that are dropping bombs. United States’ weapons are the primary reason why Yemeni civilians die, like the school bus full of children last month.
American intelligence agencies have been fully aware of this conflict since 2015 and even halted their weapon sales to Saudi Arabia in 2016. The Obama administration was wary of Prince Salman military campaign, but the Trump Administration signed off on billion-dollar arms deals that provide direct support to the Saudi army.
Sept 21- The Security Council had a briefing on the humanitarian situation in Yemen by United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock. Mr. Lowcock made a compelling statement on the critical situation in Yemen and gave an update on the port city of Al Hodeidah, which is essential for imports and humanitarian aid. The Security Council members and the Yemeni Representative made statements on the conditions in Yemen and expressed urgency for a peaceful resolution.
The Security Council members expressed an overall support for UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths. Ironically, the United States and particularly Russia made strong remarks on the importance of respecting humanitarian laws. While Russia is involved in a rather similar armed conflict with Syrian rebel groups and the United States is the primary weapon supplier to Saudi Arabia, the Security Council condemned the airstrikes that caused the civilian deaths and expressed their support for a peace plan and sustainable political resolution.
Despite the growing support to end this humanitarian crisis, neither Saudi Arabia, Iran, nor the United States has taken serious action that indicates this crisis will end. So far, the US and UK military involvement only prolong this manmade disaster.