The Humanitarian Disaster in Yemen
A group of international aid organizations working in the region argued in a statement published Sunday that the intensified aerial campaign reduced the likelihood of success of the proposed cease-fire. “We are concerned that the ongoing intensive bombing of Sa’ada Governorate will do little to encourage all parties to conflict to abide by the preconditions of the ceasefire. Furthermore, even if a five day ceasefire goes ahead, the overwhelming scale of humanitarian needs on the ground means that it will make little difference to the lives of millions of increasingly desperate people,” warned Hanibal Abiy Worku of Norwegian Refugee Council Yemen.
If this “pause” is anything like the announced end of “Decisive Storm” in April, it will mean a brief respite before continuing a disastrous and increasingly destructive war. While a pause in the fighting may offer an opening for delivering aid, the fuel shortage brought about by the Saudi-led blockade will make it very difficult to get that aid to those that need it. The fuel shortage has also been trapping many civilians in Saada province, which has exposed them to the Saudis’ indiscriminate attacks following their decision to treat the entire region as a military target in violation of international law.
The attacking governments have been strangling Yemen with their air and sea blockade for more than six weeks, and a five-day pause in the fighting isn’t going to be nearly long enough to address the enormous humanitarian needs that have been created since late March. If the Saudis resume their bombing campaign next week, any benefit to the civilian population from this cease-fire will rapidly vanish. Yemen needs much more than a short pause in the bombing. It needs the complete and permanent halt of the Saudi-led war on the country. Until that happens, a temporary cease-fire now and then will be a woefully inadequate band-aid on Yemen’s gushing wounds.