Out of Yemen’s 28.5 million citizens, 80% of them are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. What is most shocking is that the media does not cover this crisis effectively even though millions of young Yemeni children are barely surviving.
Yemen is currently experiencing what is being called the largest humanitarian crisis in existence.
As of March 2020, UNICEF stated that around two million Yemeni children under five suffer from acute malnutrition. By the end of the month, water, sanitation, and hygiene services will start shutting down if UNICEF does not attain funding. Moreover, Yemeni people are living through the corona virus pandemic and a cholera epidemic on top of famine and war. With weakened immune systems and damage to clean water sources, cholera and corona virus are spreading like wildfire. In addition, Yemen’s healthcare system is in shambles. This crisis and civil war all stemmed from protests from anti-government parties six years ago.
Since 2014, Yemen has been plagued by civil war. It started when the president of thirty-three years was pushed out of office after an Arab Spring uprising. Anti-government parties kept looting and protesting once the new president took office. More and more people joined the protesting, stimulating a civil war once the rebels, backed by Iran, took over the country’s capital. The neighboring countries began bombing Yemen to remove the current government. In 2016, widespread famine was the result of a U.S.-backed coalition’s blockades; cutting off sea, land and air borders to Yemeni people. Their starvation is being used as a war tactic against Yemen. In 2018, both parties vowed to stop fighting, however this vow was broken immediately, and the war continued. Al-Qaeda grew stronger as they began attacking Yemen to acquire a large part of it.
The U.S. previously backed a coalition associated with many war crimes. It destroyed schools, hospitals, refugee camps, food factories and water treatment plants. This Saudi-led coalition, supporting Yemen’s government in its war with the rebel Houthi movement, was responsible for the death or injury of 222 children in Yemen last year. It was recently removed from a UN blacklist, causing human rights groups to accuse the Secretary General of ignoring evidence of grave violations. Adrianne Lapar, Director of the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict states that this “sends a message that powerful actors can get away with killing children”. She then called for “an independent, objective, transparent assessment of the process leading to the decision”. This coalition had been blacklisted for three years and suddenly removed following pressure from Saudi Arabia.
Within these five years, all parties are responsible for children recruitment, abductions, sexual violence and attacks on schools and hospitals.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of the UN stated that there is “a sustained, significant decrease in killing and maiming due to airstrike” and that the program would be monitored for twelve months and “any failure in this regard would result in relisting for the same violation”. This may leave children in danger of the attacks. While there is going to be a surveillance period for this coalition outside of the blacklist, there has been mounds of evidence to support the detriments of its actions.
It is alarming that the United States has made minimal efforts to combat this shocking crisis. Both the Trump administration and Obama administration have made efforts for US inclusion in this war to no avail. Despite this fact, we must do whatever we can to aid this dying country.
As a result of this civil war, the price of food has risen significantly. These people find their food by scavenging in dumps all while trying to avoid contracting a disease. Children are suffering endlessly from war related disparities, lack of nutrition, sickness, and water stress. Meanwhile, the people of Yemen are said to have the lowest immunity level in the whole world. If this war does not resolve quickly, this generation of Yemeni people will face irreversible outcomes. Half of all children’s growth in Yemen is stunted, 70% of the population is going hungry as this country faces one of the world worst famines in over 100 years. Due to the extreme food insecurity, child marriage is being used for income. About 32% of girls in Yemen are married before age 18 while 9% are married before age 15. Child marriage is being used as protection for the girls while acquiring a dowry for the rest of the family.
How is this crisis going unnoticed by the majority of American citizens?
Although many have voiced their opinion on this issue, popular media houses do not seem to be covering this crisis at all. The general public of America seems to be exceedingly uninformed on this crisis. To my knowledge, those with social media are just recently posting about the tragedies present in Yemen. As global citizens, it is our duty to inform and stay informed. This devastating humanitarian crisis should be spread all throughout social media, news outlets and pushed especially within the United Nations. There may seem to be no solution to the devastation in Yemen, however we can provide aid during this suffering. With increased awareness and widespread information on how to donate and offer support, we can provide the people of Yemen the aid they so desperately need.