In recent days, social media has been highlighting the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world. Alongside battling COVID-19, Yemen is suffering from an ongoing, violent conflict and the largest cholera outbreak ever recorded. This has been a part of daily life for Yemen’s civilians for many years now, despite it only hitting our mainstream media in the past few weeks.
Yemen is a country that has suffered from political warfare for a long time now. This started due to the country we know today originally being split into two countries, North and South Yemen. Despite joining together in 1990 the two sides often do not see eye to eye.
Hadi’s presidency has been plagued by numerous issues from widespread corruption and poverty, Southern Yemen separatists and IS invasions.
The origins of the current crisis go back to 2011 with the transition of power from long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh to his deputy Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. This was meant to bring stability to the suffering country but Hadi’s presidency has been plagued by numerous issues from widespread corruption and poverty, Southern Yemen separatists and IS invasions.
The Houthi movement was able to take advantage of both the weak government and the civilians’ feelings of disillusionment to take control of Yemen’s capital city Saada in 2014. The previous President, Sahel, and forces loyal to him are thought to have allied with the Houthi Movement in a bid to regain power. President Hadi was forced to flee abroad.
Saudi Arabia, among other states, were alarmed at this as they believe the rebels to be backed by weapons from Iran, although Iran denied this. They launched an air campaign aimed to restore Hadi’s government and received logistical and intelligence support from the US, France and the UK.
All this has led to four years of military stalemate although ground troops have helped drive the Houthis out of much of southern Yemen. Hadi’s government has established themselves temporarily in the city of Aden although the President remains based in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the Houthis remain in the capital and launch regular attacks on Saudi Arabia. Their alliance with Sahel collapsed and he was killed. Meanwhile, militants from both al-Qaeda and IS have taken advantage of the chaos through regular attacks.
This has left the civilian population in the midst of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with 80% of the population now requiring some form of assistance.
Since January 2020 there has been an escalation in violence between both sides after a suspected Houthi missile attack killed 116 people. This has left the civilian population in the midst of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with 80% of the population now requiring some form of assistance.
Additionally, the country is struggling with the largest cholera outbreak ever recorded and the situation is made worse thanks to airstrike damage. Millions are displaced and only half of Yemen’s 3500 medical facilities remaining fully functioning. This is all before you consider the impact of Covid-19.
Covid-19 cases are recorded in the hundreds, but testing rates are extremely low so this value is almost certainly undercounted. With millions displaced the virus is proving difficult to control. Even implementing basic handwashing measures is difficult when people don’t have access to clean water.
Earlier this month one of the leading health experts in Yemen, Dr Yassin Abdul Wareth, succumbed to the disease. He was known for both his scientific experience and goodwill and is said to be a major loss to Yemen’s health sector. Frontline healthcare workers are struggling to gain access to any protection. While UNICEF has shipped over 33,000 respirators, 33000 face shields and 18,000 gowns since early June this is not enough.
It is hard to know what you can do to help people suffering. UNICEF, the Red Cross, Project Hope, International Rescue Committee and Save the Children are all doing vital work and are all searching for funds. You can also email your MP to demand they take action, sign a number of petitions below and spread the word via both face-to-face conversation and social media to allow the voices of those suffering to be heard.
Here are some useful links and petitions in relation to the Yemen Crisis:
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