Sana’a (GPA) – While the world focuses on Venezuela to validate coup threats, the manmade humanitarian situation in Yemen continues deteriorating. In fact, the very country claiming to help alleviate Venezuelan suffering, the United States, has played an active and intentional role in creating the crisis in Yemen.
According to a recent report from ReliefWeb, 80% of Yemen’s entire population require urgent humanitarian assistance. This figure is up 30% from last year. That means out of an estimated population of 30.5 million, 24.1 million require immediate aid for survival.
Facing starvation and famine due to the blockade, 20.1 million need urgent food assistance. Healthcare is also a vital concern. 19.7 million Yemenis lack basic access to doctors and lifesaving medicines. To top it off, 17.8 million don’t even have proper water, sanitation, and other supplies for keeping up with basic hygiene. By looking at these numbers, it’s easy to see that a majority of Yemenis need urgent assistance in all three areas.
This is a major problem because the lack of access to clean water and sanitation equipment is directly responsible for the fatal spread of cholera. The UN expects to record up to 350,000 cases of cholera in 2019. In 2017, one million were infected with the preventable illness while several thousand died.
Instead of putting forth any efforts to lift the US-enforced and Saudi-led blockade and siege of Yemen, the UN has appealed for $4.2 billion to meet humanitarian needs.
Famine and Disease as a Weapon of War
The blockade, which is technically illegal under international law, restricts all land, sea, and air imports and exports. It also prohibits the free flow of human movement — which has effectively turned Yemen into an open-air prison. This travel ban, combined with the country’s failing healthcare system, had contributed to the death of over 27 thousand civilians as of August of 2018. It has also caused the death of over 247,000 children who are particularly vulnerable to starvation and disease.
But the starvation, disease, and crumbling healthcare system aren’t merely a byproduct of the blockade: they’re an intentional consequence.
According to a report Geopolitics Alert received from the Republic of Yemen, the US-backed Saudi-led coalition has continued targeting civilian infrastructure vital for sustaining life.
During the month of December alone, Saudi coalition warplanes attacked 68 water tanks and pumps, 222 agricultural fields, four markets, 132 livestock, four food warehouses, and much more. To top it off, coalition airstrikes also targeted 190 businesses and factories as well as airports, seaports, boats, and gas stations.
These are direct attacks on Yemen’s food and water supply.
The report also states that hundreds of workers such as fishermen, farmers, and factory workers in Hodeidah province have become unemployed during the month of December due to such attacks on their source of income. The Saudi coalition also detonates cluster munitions and chemical weapons over agricultural fields to further contaminate the land.
The coalition airstrikes on vital civilian infrastructure make it clear that starvation and disease from the blockade are intended weapons of war.
This MintPress documentary examines the gruesome attacks on fishermen who recall horrors of rape and torture after being captured by Saudi coalition warships.
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Washington: Claiming to Support Human Rights in Venezuela While Murdering Yemenis
It’s difficult to imagine how a country such as the United States could claim to support democracy and human rights in Venezuela — or anywhere — while quite literally trampling on the rights of Yemenis.
Washington plays a very active role in Yemen.
US naval ships routinely enforce the sea blockade and directly contribute to the bottleneck of aid shipments. Food aid sits at Djibouti ports in sweltering temperatures awaiting Saudi inspection and goes rancid by the time it reaches Yemen for distribution.
The United States also actively participates in the bombing of Yemen in multiple ways. Washington supplies fighter jets, fuel, and precision-guided missiles for launching attacks on Yemeni civilians and infrastructure. The United States also has troops on the ground training coalition forces and manning Saudi command centers where airstrikes are ordered.
Until the blockade is lifted and air raids cease, no amount of assistance will alleviate Yemen’s suffering and attacks on its right to self-determine. The war against Yemen will enter its fifth year at the end of March.
Featured photo: Flickr | EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations