Home/Daniel Larison/The Staggering Human Cost of the War on Yemen

The Staggering Human Cost of the War on Yemen

Fighting in the war on Yemen has killed at least 100,000 people:

Yemen’s civil war has killed more than 100,000 people since 2015, a database project that tracks violence said Thursday.

The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, or ACLED, said in a new report its death toll includes more than 12,000 civilians killed in attacks targeting civilians directly [bold mine-DL].

The report is counting only combat fatalities and civilian casualties, but the war has been much more destructive than this number alone would suggest. The estimated loss of life from starvation and disease caused by the war and coalition policies is more than 130,000, and that is likely to be on the low end. The humanitarian crisis driven by the war continues to take the lives of innocent Yemenis because of the disastrous conditions that have been created by more than four and a half years of bombing, blockade, and economic warfare. Oxfam released a statement in response to the news:

Muhsin Siddiquey, Oxfam’s Country Director in Yemen, said in response: “This is further proof of the mindless destruction and injustice of the war in Yemen. The true death toll is much higher when fatalities related to the lack of medicine, food and clean water are taken into account. It is civilians who are paying the highest price of this brutal conflict.

“This should act as a wake up call to all sides to agree a nationwide ceasefire and to return to the negotiating table in order to reach a lasting peace. Arms exporting countries should stop fuelling the fighting by sending weapons to the warring parties.”

More than half the population lacks access to clean drinking water. Malnutrition is widespread, and two million children suffer from acute malnutrition. 360,000 of those children are under five and suffer from severe acute malnutrition. Even if the war ended tomorrow, half of all children under five have already had their growth stunted by lack of food. Twenty million are food insecure, and the World Health Organization (WHO) said that a quarter million are on the verge of starving to death now:

“Nearly a quarter of a million people are on the brink of starvation, if not urgent intervention,” the humanitarian organisation stressed.

It is important to remember that famine in Yemen is man-made and it is being driven mainly by the actions and policies of U.S.-backed client governments. The people of Yemen are not just starving, they are being starved. Our government is complicit in this crime. If I sound like a broken record, that’s because I intend to keep repeating these key points again and again so that Americans understand what our government has been doing to this country for almost half a decade.

ACLED found once again that the Saudi coalition was responsible for a large majority of civilian casualties through its indiscriminate bombing campaign:

The project said the Saudi-led coalition and its allies were responsible for more than 8,000 deaths resulting from the direct targeting of civilians since 2015, and the coalition airstrikes caused around 67% of all reported civilian deaths.

The U.S. has been supporting the bombing campaign for this entire time, so our government is responsible for enabling the killing of all those thousands of people.

2019 has been the second worst year of the war in terms of the number killed in combat:

ACLED said approximately 20,000 people have been killed this year, already making 2019 the second-deadliest year on record after 2018, with 30,800 dead.

Even though this has been second deadliest year since the start of the war, Yemen has once again faded into the background in most Western media coverage. It seems as if the world’s attention returns there only if there is a particularly ghastly massacre or the conflict reaches some grim milestone. Yemen needs an end to the grinding economic warfare that has been waged on the civilian population, and it needs an end to the fighting, and that need is more urgent than ever.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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