The Starvation of Yemen and the Attack on Hodeidah
The Associated Press reports on the appalling starvation that is slowly killing millions of people in Yemen:
In a remote pocket of northern Yemen, many families with starving children have nothing to eat but the leaves of a local vine, boiled into a sour, acidic green paste. International aid agencies have been caught off guard by the extent of the suffering there as parents and children waste away.
The main health center in Aslam district was flooded with dozens of emaciated children during a recent visit by the Associated Press. Excruciatingly thin toddlers, eyes bulging, sat in a plastic washtub used in a make-shift scale as nurses weighed each one. Their papery skin was stretched tight over pencil-like limbs and knobby knees. Nurses measured their forearms, just a few centimeters in diameter, marking the worst stages of malnutrition.
At least 20 children are known to have died of starvation already this year in the province that includes the district, more than three years into the country’s ruinous civil war. The real number is likely far higher, since few families report it when their children die at home, officials say [bold mine-DL].
Millions of Yemenis are suffering from conditions like these every day, and the conditions are growing steadily worse. The coalition blockade impedes the delivery of basic necessities, and what does get through is prohibitively expensive for people in a country where the economy is in a state of collapse. Countless Yemenis are dying from preventable causes, and many of their deaths go uncounted and unseen. Hunger and disease have been claiming at least tens of thousands of Yemeni lives each year that this conflict has been raging, and those numbers are only going to increase if things keep going as they are. There will be many more preventable deaths if the coalition’s Hodeidah offensive continues, since that offensive threatens to disrupt supplies of food and fuel even more. International aid agencies warn of the famine that is likely to happen if the offensive is not stopped:
Audrey Crawford, [Danish Refugee Council]’s Country Director in Yemen says: “We are equally worried about the likely closure of the port of Hodeidah, through which 70% of supplies are shipped. With rates of malnutrition and disease running high, the port is a vital lifeline for millions of Yemenis who are dependent on aid.”
Meanwhile, almost half a million people have fled Hodeidah between June and August. The Norwegian Refugee Council report continues:
So far in September, 55,000 people have been displaced from across the governorate, leaving more than half a million at heightened risk of hunger and exposure to diseases, including cholera.
The Hodeidah offensive is already putting hundreds of thousands of lives at risk, and unless it is stopped quickly it could endanger millions more. The U.N. has issued its own warning about the potential consequences of the continuation of the Hodeidah offensive:
The UN warned ongoing fighting in Hodeidah, the entry point for the bulk of Yemen’s commercial imports and aid supplies, could trigger famine in the impoverished nation where an estimated 8.4 million people are facing starvation.
“We’re particularly worried about the Red Sea mill, which currently has 45,000 metric tonnes of food inside, enough to feed 3.5 million people for a month. If the mills are damaged or disrupted, the human cost will be incalculable,” Grande said in a statement.
If the coalition were making “every effort” to reduce harm to civilians, as Pompeo and other administration officials have dishonestly claimed, it would not be pressing ahead with the attack on Hodeidah, and it would not still be impeding the delivery of basic necessities. We can see that the Saudi coalition acts with callous disregard for the lives of Yemeni civilians and has done so since it attacked in 2015. The Saudis and their allies have been strangling Yemen’s population to death for years, and the U.S. gives them cover and aid while they do it. Congress needs to challenge the Trump administration over its lies about Yemen and they need to use all the leverage at their disposal to force an end to U.S. involvement in this atrocious war.