Yemen, being the poorest Arab nation, is suffering the world’s worst humanitarian, man-made crisis with more than 24 million people - an astounding 80% of the population - in need of humanitarian assistance due to famine, disease and war, including 12 million children.
The background to the crisis in Yemen began from the Arab Spring of 2011, when anti-government uprisings forced the authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to hand power to his deputy. However, the new president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, failed to stabilise the country.
In 2014, Houthi Insurgents, Shite rebels backed by Iran and Yemen’s former president, Saleh, gained control of the capital and largest city, Sana’a. Civil war broke out, with the Iran backed Houthi rebels on one side and Yemen’s internationally recognised government, backed by Saudi-Arabia and supported by the US and the UK on the other.
The UN says that Saudi led air strikes are responsible for the majority of civilian deaths with numerous cases of bombings on hospitals, schools, ambulance crews and funerals. According to the Yemen Data Project, the Saudi-led coalition has conducted more than 21,000 airstrikes on Yemen since the war first began.
Both sides have taken part in war crimes, with civilians caught in the middle; the Houthis of serious violations of international humanitarian law, by recruiting children as soldiers, some as young as ten years old.
You must but question yourself if this war on Yemen holds the “oil secret” as has been the fact in other cases; Yemen has 3,000,000,000 barrels of proven oil reserves as of 2016, ranking 29th in the world and accounting for about 0.2% of the world's total oil reserves of 1,650,585,140,000 barrels. Yemen has proven reserves equivalent to 137.0 times its annual consumption.
The rapid escalation of Covid-19 throughout the world has meant that Yemen, which is already suffering and scarred from war, is now facing potentially the worst threat of all. Yemen has been the centre for the world’s largest cholera outbreak, another extremely deadly waterborne disease, as communities do not have access to clean water, sanitation and basic hygiene. Therefore, the health system in Yemen is already in complete disarray with testing and treatment for Covid-19 predicted to be the worst in the world. Yemeni civilians already have such a low immunity and it is clear that hand washing and social distancing will be virtually impossible.
The Covid-19 Pandemic spreading at an accelerated rate throughout the world has taken our attention away from wars like this and poverty in general worldwide. The poor people such as the Yemenites need our attention and support more than ever.
We may often feel as though our actions are trivial and insubstantial, especially considering the constant news reel of disasters throughout the world from war zones to famine and poverty, often making humans numb to instances of destruction and death.
However, we must continue to fight for those who suffer most, even if our actions may seem miniscule. Collective actions can include volunteer work at home or abroad and signing petitions or writing to local government representatives to push for a global ceasefire and demand that aid reaches the most deprived communities.
Further details can be found in these links:
Shona Shutton, UK