Yemen is the biggest humanitarian crisis our world currently faces, and its people are on the verge of extinction, with a staggering 24 million in need of urgent assistance
Over the past few days, the world has taken to social media to declare their outrage on the lack of coverage of Yemen’s state.
What exactly is happening in Yemen?
Dire starvation, malnutrition, famine and constant fighting are just a few of the many predicaments the people of Yemen are facing. With their main ports being blocked off by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition a few years ago, the main source of food and medicine has been terminated. This has resulted in mass loss of lives due to severe starvation.
Even before the war, 90% of the country’s food was imported. In Yemen, a child dies every ten minutes. To add to that, UNICEF estimates two million children under five suffer from acute malnutrition as of March 2020. The pictures you may have seen online of young children with merely skin and bones is a small representation of how quickly the situation has escalated.
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Disease in Yemen
Aside from the world’s most recent coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, Yemen has also been enduring a number of other diseases including malaria, dengue and one of the worst cholera epidemics. These have all been present in the country for the past half decade, and have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths. Due to the country’s more or less “nonexistent” healthcare system (as described by the UN) curing civilians is an anomaly. A population of nearly 30 million surviving on only 200 ventilators can give you a pretty good idea of how grim the situation has become. With many doctors and nurses having fled the country after not being paid for over two years, it’s no wonder that ICUs and hospitals are overflowing with crowds with not much help to be given.
The poor living conditions of most Yemenis means huge families are squashed into small camps and sharing of water and bathroom facilities makes social distancing and precaution impossible. They can’t afford to wear protective masks and use sanitation against COVID-19. This has done nothing but increase the number of COVID-19 cases, which is only increasing. However, with coverage of the virus banned, it’s clear that the number of cases is much higher.
How did the war start?
None of this is new. For the past five years since 2015 when war broke out, Yemen has become a bloody battlefield. To put it briefly, after uprisings from the public shortly after the Arab spring revolutions which swept the entire Middle East, the country turned into a war zone. After this their former president fled to Saudi Arabia, as chaos was unfolding, with the Houthi rebels seizing control of the capital. The Houthi rebels are a Shia group who oppose the Yemeni government, supposedly backed by Iran. The Saudi Arabian government subsequently saw this group as a threat to the country’s stability and thus formed a coalition backed by the Yemeni government. The coalition includes a number of Gulf States like Kuwait and the UAE. Also a big contributor to the coalition is the US, who have donated billions of dollars, and continue to do so. Other Western countries including the UK, France and Spain have contributed to the buying of weapons, which are used to kill innocents.
Ever since 2015, the coalition has been heavily bombing and sending airstrikes, in an attempt to destroy the Houthi rebels. Its estimated that hundreds of thousands of innocent Yemenis have died as a result of the ongoing fighting between the two groups
The ramifications of this political dispute have crippled the nation’s people, economy and healthcare system. Saudi Arabia is responsible for a number of unforgivable war crimes, and yet are still not held responsible.
The UN recently took the coalition of their “UN rights blacklist” which essentially takes all blame off the coalition for their involvement with Yemen.
What can we do?
While the world has been embarrassingly slow to save the people of Yemen, the UN are working towards a peaceful solution, and have also issued a desperate plea for financial aid. But what can we do as individuals to help out our brothers and sisters?
There are a number of petitions you can sign which can help the people of Yemen practically, by potentially ending political disputes
Raise awareness: always stay informed about the situation and make sure to keep up to date with what is going on. Sharing videos and useful information on social media and with family will allow more people to find out about this hidden catastrophe, as mainstream media refuses to give it the attention it deserves
Donate money: if you need to give in charity, it’s now. A number of trusted charities are able to reach out and deliver humanitarian aid, which will no doubt help the people. Even if you’re just donating one dollar, or saving just one life, the people of Yemen need you now more than ever.