Yemen: “A Bus Racing Towards The End of a Cliff”
By admin August 7, 2017

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Since civil war broke out in Yemen almost three years ago, a dire humanitarian situation has unfolded, and appears to only be getting worse. Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, has been left devastated by two warring factions of the countries leadership. The civil war has killed more than 10,000 people, wounded 40,000 and is pushing the country to the brink of famine with a deadly cholera crisis engulfing what Noah in days long since past described as “the land of milk and honey.”

Yemen erupted into civil war in September 2014 when Shiite Houthi rebels, backed by Iran and allied with ousted President Ali Abdulah Saleh, swept into the capital Sana’a and overthrew President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s internationally recognized government. In response, a Saudi Arabia-led coalition, with U.S. support, launched an aggressive air campaign against Houthi forces in support of Hadi’s government. While the Arab coalition has dislodged Houthi positions in the south, they have failed to recapture Sana’a and much of the north. Moreover, the environment of state collapse and growing sectarianism has allowed the Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda to flourish in many parts of the country.

The catastrophic situation has precipitated the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. According to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, an estimated 20.7 million Yemenis are in need of assistance with two-thirds of the population – 18.8 million – requiring some form of emergency aid. Even before the civil war more than half the country lived below the poverty line. Now, with 90 percent of Yemen’s food imported and a naval embargo imposed by the Saudi-led coalition, 17 million are considered food insecure. Meanwhile, medical centers have been destroyed; government health workers haven’t been paid for almost a year, and, most harmfully, the delivery of vital aid is being obstructed. Economically, the Hadi government is powerless, as the country faces economic strangulation with a liquidity crisis and a reduction in purchasing power.

As a result, various UN agencies and respected news outlets such as the BBC and New York Times have argued that two years of civil and economic collapse have been conducive to the worst cholera outbreak reported in any country in a single year. With severe damage to pumps and sewage treatment facilities, coupled with restrictions of fuel imports imposed by the Saudi coalition – crucial to maintaining water supply – civilians are forced to rely on untreated water supplies and unprotected wells. Since the cholera crisis began in April 2015, more than 425,000 people have been infected and almost 2,000 people killed – numbers Oxfam reports to dramatically increase, exceeding Haiti in 2011.

This past week, Save the Children, an international NGO protecting the rights of children, reported more than one million malnourished children under the age of five are living in areas with high level of cholera. If untreated, cholera, spread through water contaminated by the Vibrio cholera bacterium, can kill within hours. Even if treated, children could be pushed further towards starvation. Thus, as encapsulated by Tamer Kirolos, who heads Save the Children, “the tragedy is that cholera and malnutrition are easily treatable if you have basic access to healthcare.”

Dubbed “the forgotten war,” the dismal and complicated situation in Yemen receives comparatively little attention from the international community. This is in large part due to the lack of access granted to journalists and aid workers, creating a situation in which “Yemen has basically become an island,” according to freelancer Iona Craig.

Sadly, with only 7 percent raised for the UN’s appeal for $2.1bn to assist 12 million Yemenis in dire need, many of which are children, UN Development Chief Auke Lootsma, said, “there is no end in sight” and the situation is akin to “a bus racing towards the end of a cliff.”

Further Reading:

What You Need to Know About the Crisis in Yemen

Yemen: more than one million children at risk of cholera – charity

UNDP says humanitarian workers struggle to access Yemen crisis

Yemen conflict: How bad is the humanitarian crisis?

Yemen: Crisis Overview | United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Thanks for sharing !

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