The Trump administration continues to contribute to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis by backing the Saudi coalition blockade of Yemen and the assault on the port of Hodeidah. Aid organizations are warning that famine is very close:
Yemen is close to famine after a 25-percent increase in levels of severe hunger this year [bold mine-DL] and an offensive on the main port city of Hodeida, a lifeline for millions, humanitarian organizations warned on Monday.
Thousands more people have been displaced by the conflict and many are having to skip meals and beg on the streets, they said, with an estimated 8.4 million people already on the verge of starvation.
“We perceive the country to be sitting on a knife edge in terms of famine – it could tip at any time really,” [bold mine-DL] Suze van Meegen, spokeswoman for the Norwegian Refugee Council, told the Thomson Reuters foundation by phone from the capital, Sanaa.
The U.N. projects that there will be an additional ten million people on the verge of famine by the close of 2018 if conditions do not improve. More than sixty percent of Yemen’s total population could be at serious risk of starving to death by year’s end. Nowhere on earth are there more people at risk of dying from preventable causes than in Yemen. Jane Ferguson spoke to Democracy Now! about her recent report on the war on Yemen and addressed this point:
And that’s a toll that is unmatched anywhere in the world. Nowhere in the world has a statistic like one-third of an entire country’s population is on the brink of starvation.
In a few months, that statistic will increase to two-thirds of the total population. The crisis there is entirely man-made and caused in large part by the Saudi coalition and its Western backers. The sheer number of innocent lives at risk from starvation is shocking, but what is even more shocking is that the profound suffering of the people of Yemen barely registers in the rest of the world, especially in those countries whose governments are aiding and abetting the coalition in its crimes.
International attention to this disaster remains limited, and the response has been slow and inadequate. Media coverage of the war is sparse. The scale and severity of the crisis demand a much larger and more urgent response from the world’s governments, but even after three years of steadily worsening conditions this hasn’t happened. As we know, many of the most powerful governments, including ours, are complicit in creating the disaster and have done whatever they can to shield their clients from scrutiny. Yemen’s own so-called “legitimate” government is a partner in the destruction of the country, and the vast majority of Yemen’s population has no one to speak for them or stand up for them in front of the world.
The Hodeidah offensive threatens the lives of millions if it continues. Conditions in and around the port city are already deteriorating quickly:
“People are living in pathetic conditions not fit for humans and completely untenable for those who are most vulnerable,” said Isaac Ooko, area manager in Hodeidah for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
Any damage to or disruption of the port could be potentially fatal for millions of Yemenis. The U.S. has the influence with coalition governments to avert this catastrophe, but it has to be willing to use it. If the administration keeps refusing to do that, Congress has to act instead. Congress needs to cut off all U.S. military assistance to the Saudi coalition, block all future arms sales, and investigate the U.S. role in the torture of Yemenis detained in UAE-run prisons. Halting U.S. support for the war on Yemen won’t undo the horrific damage already done, but it should help to prevent an even greater nightmare for the people of Yemen.