The Kashmir Monitor is now on Telegram. Click here to Join

Humanitarian crisis in Yemen

The death of the 10-year old named Adam, who virtually represented the pathetic state of starving Yemeni children, on Tuesday, has brought international focus again on Yemen. He was one among thousands of children facing starvation in the war-torn Yemen. Last month Save the Children warned the fighting was turning into a “war on children” with thousands suffering life-changing injuries in the attacks. With more than 22 million people (75% of the estimated population) in need of food and other assistance, Yemen has become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Media reports, quoting United Nations, have warned that the conflict-ridden country could be facing the worst famine in 100 years if the war was not halted. Yemen has been in the grip of a bloody civil war for three years after Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, seized much of the country, including the capital, Sana’a. The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the rebels since 2015 in support of the internationally recognized government. Thousands of civilians have been caught in the middle, trapped by minefields and barrages of mortars and airstrikes. The resulting humanitarian catastrophe has seen at least 10,000 people killed and millions displaced.

At least 149 people including civilians have been killed since Monday in clashes between government loyalists and rebels in Yemen’s flashpoint city of Hodeida. Hodeida port has been under blockade by the coalition for a year. The alliance accuses Iran of smuggling arms to the Houthis through the port. Government forces, led on the ground by Arab-backed troops, have made their way into rebel-held Hodeida after 11 days of clashes. The war has now reached the residential neighbourhoods sparking fears of street fights that would further endanger civilians trapped in the city. Three years of fighting between Saudi-backed government forces and Houthi rebels have created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.. The United Nations warned this week that half its population may soon rely entirely on humanitarian aid to survive. The Saudi-backed forces have used blockades to keep humanitarian aid from reaching areas controlled by the Houthis.

 

Last week, New York Times published the gut-wrenching images of emaciated Yemeni children who have got reduced to mere frames due to lack of food and necessary assistance. The pictures of children close to death in Yemen were haunting and painful. Some 30,000 Yemeni children die every year with malnutrition as one of the most important underlying causes. Dozens of starving children in Yemen’s Hodeidah city are at “imminent risk of death” as fighting threatens to engulf the hospital where they are being treated. International media reports reveal that at least 59 children, including 25 in intensive care, are receiving lifesaving treatment for starvation in al-Thawra medical centre, which is the only functioning hospital left in the war-torn Red Sea city. According to these reports the building is now close to the front line and at risk of being bombed or shelled as fierce fighting between the Saudi Arabia-backed coalition and the Shia Houthi rebels draw close.

The Saudi-led alliance has come under intense international pressure to end the conflict in Yemen, particularly following the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who was killed in his country’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2, was an ardent critic of Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has spearheaded the kingdom’s controversial role in the Yemen war. Several countries, including Germany and Norway, halted arms sales to Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi’s killing. However, this has little impact on the ground fighting, and there are no signs of any immediate ceasefire. It is the responsibility of the international community to ensure and enforce the halt in fighting. Both, Saudi Arabia and Iran punished in every possible way for their criminality against civilian population in Yemen. The United States of America and Russia are concerned more about their geo-strategic interests than the suffering humans. UK, Germany, China, Pakistan and Turkey should take the lead and get the international community on one page to resolve the Yemeni crisis.