By Yuram Abdullah Weiler

Yemen:  All but forgotten in the West

June 17, 2017 - 11:11

The raging Saudi-imposed, U.S.-backed war continues amid a backdrop of U.S. president Donald Trump’s recent visit to the Arabian Peninsula.  While the Potomac potentate amused himself dancing with swords alongside the Riyadh royals, the oppressed people of Yemen continued to suffer under a siege launched in March 2015 by the self-proclaimed guardians of the Two Sacred Mosques. 

How bad is it?  The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a May 2017 report writes:

“The situation in Yemen is now the largest humanitarian crisis in the world with looming famine, lack of livelihoods, and growing protection concerns, forcing families further into poverty and having to resort to negative coping mechanisms – including survival sex, child labour, child recruitment, and begging.”

The all-but-forgotten (in U.S. and the West) war against Yemen so far (as of March 2017) has caused:

* 18.8 million people in need of humanitarian aid

* 14.8 million people with no access to health care services

* 14.5 million people who lack clean water, sanitation and hygiene services

* 2.1 million people unable to return to their homes

* 462,000 children suffering from malnutrition

* 186,687 Yemenis have fled to other countries

* 7,800 people killed and 44,000 injured

* 357 agricultural targets destroyed

* 274 health care facilities destroyed

In addition, the conflict-caused crisis in Yemen is having a regional impact as a result of huge demands placed on the humanitarian infrastructures of other countries by the nearly 200,000 refugees who have fled the civil war zone:  51,000 Yemenis have fled to Oman; 39,880 to Saudi Arabia, the perpetrator; 37,428 to Djibouti; 36,763 to Somalia; 14,570 to Ethiopia; and 7,046 to Sudan as of 30 April 2017 according to UNHCR.  And As of 16 May, UNHCR has only received a scant 24% of the $79.8 million needed for Yemen, leaving a shortfall of $60.7 million.  This is while the U.S. president has given Yemen’s tormentor an immediate $110 billion in high-tech weaponry to inflict further misery upon the country’s hapless population.

Meanwhile, a rapidly expanding cholera epidemic has placed an already overstressed Yemeni health infrastructure in danger of complete collapse.  The latest wave of cholera is in addition to a previous outbreak that first emerged in September 2016, bringing the total number of cases to 49,096 with 361 related deaths.  “The upsurge in cases comes as the health system and civil infrastructure, including water and sanitation facilities in most Yemeni governorates have been seriously affected due to the ongoing conflict,” states the World Health Organization in a May 2017 report.

The Saudis appear to be deliberately targeting Yemen’s civilian infrastructure, although they deny this and blame the Houthis for the devastation.  As bad as targeting hospitals and medical facilities is, the Saudis have also bombed water infrastructure, food plants, poultry farms, markets, mosques, bridges, factories, food trucks, stores and even Coca Cola bottling plants.  This deliberate destruction, in addition to the ongoing Saudi naval blockade, has had a shattering effect on the nation, which before the war imported some 90% of its food—less than 3% of Yemen’s soil is under cultivation.

Infrastructure targets hit by Saudi warplanes include:

* A water tank in al-Hazamat, Sa’ada City

* An Oxfam-run warehouse with water equipment in Sa’ada City

* The water tank and the pipes at the al-Jumhouria hospital were damaged

* Warehouses belonging to the Shamlan mineral water company

* A water tank on Al-Sham bottling plant in Hajjah

* A Coca Cola factory in Sana’a

Time is running out for Yemen. United Nations World Food Programme has stated that it is in a “race against time to save lives and prevent a full-scale famine unfolding in the country,” but lacks the necessary supplies and funding.  Worse yet is the reality that hospitals and clinics have been targeted instead of being treated as sanctuaries despite the adoption of a UN Security Council Resolution 2286 (2016), which strongly condemned attacks against medical facilities and personnel in conflict zones.  Conservative estimates place the number of illegal Saudi air strikes that constitute war crimes at over 70.

The United States role in supporting this Saudi onslaught has been crucial.  The U.S. has refueled Saudi warplanes more than 1,000 times, granted $115 billion in weapons and military aid since 2009 (not counting the most recent atrocity), and U.S. military officers are in the same room with the Saudis when targets are being selected.  The hypocrisy is so rampant, that even the U.S. State Department is straining to find ways to escape culpability for war crimes.  Yet the U.S. media surrounds Saudi war crimes in Yemen with a cover of disinterested silence:  Indeed, Yemen is all but forgotten in the West.


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