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The Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen Is Approaching a ‘Point of No Return’

Yemen’s humanitarian disaster is approaching a “point of no return” [1]:

“The numbers affected are absolutely extraordinary,” said Mark Kaye, Save the Children’s Yemen spokesperson.

We keep on talking about a country that’s on the brink of famine, but for me these numbers highlight that we’re at the point of no return. If things are not done now we are going to be looking back on this and millions of children will have starved to death, and we’ll all have been aware of this for some time. That will shame us as an international community for years to come [bold mine-DL].

The problem is that you see the numbers but you don’t see the people behind it [bold mine-DL],” he said. “I’m always concerned when we’re waiting for a tick-box to happen before we say, ‘This is famine.’

The U.S. and Britain have helped bring Yemen to this awful state with their support for the Saudi-led coalition, and they could now make some reparations by reining in the coalition and insisting that they lift their sea and air blockades. Barbara Bodine, a former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, recently suggested [2] an emergency airlift as a way to bring food into the country, but that would require Saudi agreement. Unfortunately, neither May’s government nor the Trump administration seems the least bit inclined to put pressure on the Saudis and their allies. Neither government has an incentive to draw attention to the disaster they have helped create. There are a few outspoken critics of this policy, but there aren’t many in Parliament or Congress calling them out for this.

Even if there were a surge in funding and aid right now, the aid still needs to get into the country, and at the moment the Saudi-led coalition is deliberately getting in the way of that as it has been for years. In order to distribute food in the country, there will also need to be a prolonged cease-fire, and that will never hold as long as the coalition’s supporters continue to provide arms and fuel to keep their campaign going. There needs to be a dramatic and swift change in U.S. and U.K. policies, but all signs point to the continuation of the disgraceful status quo.

Yemen’s famine could still be prevented, but it is almost too late. The international failure to respond effectively to Yemen’s crisis continues to be remarkable. One reason for that failure early on was lack of knowledge of the scale and severity of the crisis. There has been no consistent attention paid to the crisis in major media, and even when there is some coverage it often leaves out identifying the governments responsible for the disaster. The war on Yemen has been mostly neglected since it began, and even when there are reports on the humanitarian crisis they do not always identify the causes of the impending famine.

But those explanations can’t account for the near-total indifference to the plight of Yemen’s people almost two years later. The crisis had already been classified as one of the worst in the world in the summer of 2015, and yet here we are in 2017 and conditions have been allowed to deteriorate much further. That is happening in no small part because the governments that are in a position to avert disaster have been helping to bring it about and they don’t want to call attention to the horror they have unleashed on millions of innocent people.

8 Comments (Open | Close)

8 Comments To "The Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen Is Approaching a ‘Point of No Return’"

#1 Comment By The Wet One On March 16, 2017 @ 12:13 pm

Actually, I’m reasonably sure that no one will care and thus no one will be shamed.

Sad, but there it is.

So it goes.

#2 Comment By Viriato On March 16, 2017 @ 2:44 pm

This is why we need a world government. Not to undermine the sovereignty of any nation, but to fill in these gaps where it is not convenient for nation-states to do the right thing.

Each nation-state has its own, peculiar interests. That is inevitable and legitimate.

What I find outrageous is that in the twenty-first century we still have not learned how to resolve clashing national interests without resorting to war and creating humanitarian disasters. We should have figured this out long ago… and what is truly sad is that we would have, if greed and the desire to take advantage of others’ weakness did not get in the way.

#3 Comment By The Autist Formerly Known as “KD” On March 16, 2017 @ 4:55 pm

I think the idea of world government is fantastic, because if we had a world government, all wars would be civil wars, and we all know how much more humane civil wars are than conventional wars between nations!

#4 Comment By at the soundcheck On March 17, 2017 @ 10:06 am

“we all know how much more humane civil wars are than conventional wars between nations!” hahaha!

There’s a lot going on I don’t have knowledge of, but I think the lesson here is:

Besides the Islamic world’s infighting and Islam’s incompatibility with democracy,..

A country cannot have an Arab spring or revolution of its own anymore (and merrily kill each other) if it is next door to a country with professed vast oil preserves that lowers its prices so that the world’s (quickly becoming former) super power (concerned with environmental impact, especially its own, yet also controlled by super-greedy corporations and their blowhards in Washington) is unable to cost-effectively produce its own truly vast reserves.

Maybe Iran can figure out how to aid the Yemeni people. Someone has to take a step in the right direction, in earnest, to move things, and I’m afraid it ain’t going to be the US.

Daniel Larison is convicting all of us on this one issue and we can’t unhear it. Just like sex slave trafficking in our midsts, we can do nothing but we can’t un-know.

#5 Comment By rayray On March 17, 2017 @ 11:55 am

@at the soundcheck
The colonial powers spent centuries inciting and exploiting the rifts in Islam for their own purposes. It’s not surprising that these rifts have now exploded. It’s worth remembering that there were places and times when the only tolerance in the world was found in Islamic ruled cities.

It’s much like the rifts in medieval Christianity that were used to foment and justify perpetual war in Europe and elsewhere. These conflicts were endless, grinding, unfathomably bloody, destructive and useless. Jesus, one can safely postulate, wept.

It was, in fact, the concept of religious tolerance that provided the ideological basis for ending this justification for war, although we certainly found other justifications.

Which is why it’s particularly galling when people who are unbelievably ignorant of Islam (see cable news) will call it out as the cause of conflict. I literally heard some commentator on Fox News talk about how, contrary to Islam, Christianity is a “religion of peace”. This ignorance of history leads to ignorance in the present.

#6 Comment By How The Next 9/11 Is Born On March 17, 2017 @ 8:04 pm

It looks like the Saudis are now committing atrocities at sea as well:


This massacre was committed by an attack helicopter and a “military vessel”. I don’t think the Yemeni rebels have any attack helicopters. The Saudis have US-built Apaches.

If you were a Somali or Yemeni kid whose parents or aunt or uncle had been machine gunned to death by Saudis using US equipment, you’d have a pretty good idea of what you wanted to be when you grew up. The same thing any red-blooded American kid would want to be if his defenseless parents were shot to pieces by foreign butchers.

#7 Comment By at the soundcheck On March 17, 2017 @ 9:48 pm


“see cable news”

Ah, no. But I think we’ve discovered your irritant.

#8 Comment By Mike Johnson On March 20, 2017 @ 10:45 am

Spot on Ray Ray…