The UN has called on Saudi Arabia to lift its blockade in Yemen. But despite horrific images of starving children, the international community has shown little interest in this developing tragedy. Yemen, a developing humanitarian disaster the world seems to ignore, doesn’t rank on the list of priorities of the world’s governments
Yemen – The Background
Back in 2015, Saudi Arabia, along with 8 Arab states began an air-strike campaign against the Houthis, thus backing Yemen’s president, Mr. Hadi. Hadi had taken charge after the 2011 uprising, forcing the authoritarian ruler, Ali Abdullah Saleh to step aside. However, Mr Hadi failed to take decisive control and struggled in a variety of ways.
Apart from food shortages, corruption, and unemployment, Al Quaeda separatists still loyal to Abdullah Saleh carried out attacks. These attacks culminated in the rebel’s attempt to take control of the entire country in 2015. At that point, Mr Hadi fled abroad. This prompted Saudi Arabia to form a coalition and take action, mainly because the rebels were believed to have enjoyed the support of Iran’s Shia power.
At War Since 2015
Since March 2015, when the airstrikes began, over 10’000 people are believed to have died, many of them civilians. The UK, France, and the US have backed Saudi Arabia’s air-strike campaign in support of Mr Hadi.
Food supplies had been scarce, and this problem was further compounded when the coalition forced the closure of Sanaa Airport in August of last year. Only a few UN flights have since been permitted.
Yemen – A Developing Humanitarian Disaster
When Saudi Arabia also closed sea and land ports in Yemen earlier this month, food supplies began to dry up entirely. As a result, over 70% of the population are estimated to be in dire need of aid. In addition, an investigation by the watchdog SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties, listed over 700 human rights violations against the civilian population, including arbitrary detention, assault, torture, curtailment of press freedom, and extrajudicial killings. Over 500 of these violations are believed to have been perpetrated by the Houthi rebels, while the coalitions is deemed to have been responsible for approximately 100.
UN Pressure Achieves Limited Access
Bowing to UN-pressure, the Saudi-led coalition is now allowing some aid to get through. However, the UN now demands a complete lifting of the blockade, warning that failure to allow sufficient aid in, could lead to one of the worst famines in decades.
According to Al Jazeera, the airport remains closed.