The Saudi-led intervention in Yemen has created one of the greatest humanitarian crises in the world. The crisis has been described as “catastrophic,” and that is not an exaggeration. Sajjad Mohamed, Oxfam’s country director in Yemen, has described it in even more stark terms:
A brutal conflict on top of an existing crisis, a catastrophe on top of catastrophe, has created one of the biggest humanitarian emergencies in the world today—yet most people are unaware of it.
More than two million people have been displaced from their homes, and many millions more lack basic necessities largely on account of the coalition blockade. The U.N. categorized the situation in Yemen as a Level 3 humanitarian crisis last year, which is the most severe and puts it on the same level as the humanitarian disasters in Syria, Iraq, and South Sudan. All of these crises are the consequences of war. In Yemen’s case, most of the worst damage over the last year has been caused by the entirely unnecessary military intervention by the Saudis and their allies.
The vast majority of Yemenis depended on humanitarian aid before the intervention began, and as the war has continued their needs have only grown while they have been deprived of the necessary supplies. Aid groups by themselves cannot make up for the shortfalls created when the blockade doesn’t permit most normal commercial imports to come into the country, and aid groups also have great difficulty bringing in and distributing supplies where they are most needed. The lack of food and lack of access to clean water combined with the country’s collapsing health services are having their grim, predictable effects:
Almost 19 million people currently lack access to clean water and sanitation, increasing the risk of epidemics such as dengue fever, malaria and cholera.
More than 14 million Yemenis also require urgent health services, including over 2 million acutely malnourished children and pregnant and lactating women. WHO found that 16 percent of children under the age of 5 are acutely malnourished, with the rate in some areas reaching more than 30 percent.
This is what the Saudis and their allies are doing to Yemen, and this is what the U.S. has been supporting for the last year. The usual “humanitarian” interventionists remain completely quiet about all of this as they have been for 12 months. The administration that abused the concept of the “responsibility to protect” to intervene in Libya is still fully behind the Saudi-led campaign. The people of Yemen are being slowly starved to death with the support of our government, and here in the U.S. this story is either still unknown or greeted with a shrug.