If Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis Doesn’t Teach Us a Lesson on the Futility of War, Nothing Ever Will 

Hunger and malnutrition, poverty and marginalisation are at the heart of Yemen’s worsening humanitarian crisis. 

A Yemeni child looks at the ruins of war from a dilapidate structure
A Yemeni child looks at the ruins of war from a dilapidate structure Photo Credit: mronline.org

Yemen is a country at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia and located in the Middle East but its geographical location alone doesn’t say much about it or does enough to highlight what makes the country particularly vulnerable and a concern before the whole of humankind. 

At present Yemen as a country, has been facing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis due to being war-torn and extremely impoverished in terms of resources and their proper and effective utilisation. 

The humanitarian crisis that Yemen has been facing isn’t new and began somewhere around 2014 and today the concern is so grave that United Nations claims that more than 80% of the people of Yemen are in need of and are hugely dependent on some kind of aid and assistance to be able to survive and meet day to day needs. 

The magnanimity of the humanitarian crisis may also be understood by a simple fact that 20 million people in Yemen are facing food insecurity and 14 million require urgent intervention on a humanitarian level. What is more, far from becoming better, the agencies have only forecasted that the situation will only become worse next year.

In a recent joint statement which was published by the World Food Program, UNICEF and the Food and Agriculture Organisation highlighted the urgency of the humanitarian crisis and showed that more than half of Yemen’s people were slipping deeper into hunger and malnutrition and that the situation could worsen into 2021. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it very difficult for aid providing agencies to work and has also brought forward the challenge of limited funding and restricted resources to help out the people. 

The World Food Program’s Executive Director, David Beasley stated in reference to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen,“These alarming numbers must be a wake up call for the world. Yemen is on the brink of famine and we must not turn our backs on the millions of families who are now in desperate need.”

With the pandemic going on for several months now, the work of the aiding agencies has remained difficult and the situation of Yemeni civilians has only worsened.

The WFP, UNICEF and FAO have said that that the number of people suffering famine like conditions can be seen to be tripled from 16,500 to 47,000 between January-June 2021. The lack of funding from the United Nations has only worsened the situation.

What Has Landed Yemen into a Sustained & Ongoing Humanitarian Crisis?

One of the most important questions which needs to be addressed urgently is as to why and how Yemen has landed up into this gigantic humanitarian crisis. Yemen’s dire economic and social conditions have continued to worsen ever since a very high voltage and tense political drama began to unfold in the country since 2014-15.

 The UAE have led a coalition if states in Yemen against the Iran-backed Houthi forces. Houthi forces have their rule in areas housing 70% of the population of the country. Reports by Human Rights Watch would have us believe that countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE have had vested interests in continuing the war in Yemen and have contributed significant amounts of money towards continuing the military operations in the Yemen. Thanks to these financial contributions, the conflict in Yemen has been constantly fuelled while its people are pushed deeper into poverty and hunger.

Killing and Human Rights Violations Plague Yemen

Owing to the long standing conflict on Yemeni land, the Yemeni people have been pushed further into the dens of poverty and hunger and numerous instances of human rights violations too, have been reported. 

In fact, if one were to consider a report published by the Human Rights Watch(HRW)one would see the extent of violations and abuses that have rampaged the Yemeni land. 

From recruitment of children for armed conflict, the usage of banned antipersonnel landmines and firing unregulated artillery into cities, killing thousands of innocent people-  these violations have now become a common practice in Yemen. This report also documented attest 90 unlawful Saudi-led air-strikes that deliberately targeted human beings who were guard less and innocent in all respects.

It is unfortunate that regional players are playing such an important role in prolonging the conflict and added fuel to fire but what is even more regressive is that they are creating obstacles before aid providing agencies and not allowing them to adequately reach out to vulnerable and marginalised communities most in need of help. 

The Saudi led coalition is known for stopping aid from reaching out to Houthi controlled sea ports according to the above mentioned report. 

This answers for the fact that Yemeni people living in these parts of the country have an unprecedented shortage of food or access to food.

It is ironic that although the world knows about the Yemeni humanitarian crisis or that in the absence of humanitarian aid, the majority of its population will succumb to hunger and malnutrition- nothing concrete has been done to make the lives of the Yemeni people better or to ensure that a better future awaits them.

The future of the Yemeni people looks dull and bleak with the existing paradoxes and painful tales of human suffering. 

As long as regional players continue with their vested interests and direct all resources for the continuity of the military conflict, the situation in Yemen will continue to only deteriorate further.

It is high time that regional players such as Iran, UAE and Saudi Arabia help Yemen fight the humanitarian crisis and not help perpetuate it further by their vested and selfish goals.

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