Monday June 24, 2024

As Yemen bleeds

By Editorial Board
September 16, 2018

Yemen is one of those humanitarian crises that the world does not care about, and this has allowed the situation to get worse. After the collapse of the UN peace talks, UN officials have stated that hundreds of thousands of lives hang in the balance in the city of Hodeidah. The resumption of aerial bombardment and shelling is creating fears that food mills in the city could be damaged or disrupted. The warning came after the Saudi-led military coalition seized the main road into the city, weakening Houthi control over the supply of humanitarian aid into the country. The UN-sponsored talks failed to get off the ground after Houthi representatives claimed they did not have adequate assurances over their safety. With the Saudi coalition right at Hodeidah’s door, it is uncertain whether they will try to take the city, which could lead to a bloodbath. As it stands, the coalition could lay siege to the city, or move for the port of Hodeidah to disrupt supplies into the city. The US has continued to side with the Saudis, assuring arms exports to keep its war efforts in Yemen flowing, and the US State Department continues to insist that the Saudis are taking measures to protect civilian lives.

This is not an idea that can be held up to closer scrutiny – but such is the nature of the warzones in the Middle East. The dual aims of defeating Isis and defeating Iran have been muddled together with the UAE-Saudi-led effort to isolate Qatar. Yemen and Syria are the battlegrounds where the war is playing out. Yemen is already considered the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis, with 22 million of its 28 million population considered to be dependent on aid. The loss of the port of Hodeidah could trigger a famine in the country where an estimated 8.4 million people are facing starvation. While the objectives of the Saudi-led coalition are suspect, the failure of the Houthi representatives to show up in Geneva has created more space for the Saudi coalition to amplify its war effort. The shocking human cost of the war has been pushed aside. More than 11 million children in Yemen face food shortages, while almost 1.8 million of them are malnourished. The absence of serious peace efforts from the international community is adding to their misery. It looks like little will change in the short term.