By : Inika Harikrishnan
Yemen has wept and struggled in silence, with its children being starved to the bone. How did we let this happen? This country deserves more than an apology, it deserves to be liberated and remembered for its strength and patience. The death toll in Yemen is well into the millions, yet it remains largely uncovered by media. Where is the outrage? Their pleas have been drowned out and it is our responsibility to educate ourselves and aid them in this time of crisis.
This crisis starts when the Houthis (backed by Iran) rebelled and began to seize territories. They managed to take over the capital, Sana’a. Saudi Arabia, with the support of the USA, UK and France, began bombing Yemen to get the Houthis out, and in doing so, worsened the conflict. Since the beginning of these bombings, there have been over 19,000 air strikes.
Since June 2017 there has been an outbreak of cholera in the country as well, which continues to infect around 5,000 people everyday. Among pregnant women and children in coastal areas, the spread of malaria remains an unsolved cause of death and suffering too. The war itself is bad, but the airstrikes on public infrastructure such as health, sanitation and water supply has worsened the risk of dengue, pneumonia, chikungunya and typhoid along with the spread of existing epidemics. The temporary capital, Aden, has even been declared a disaster zone, and COVID-19 has not spared the country either. There are no testing kits, sanitation facilities or even clean water. If first world countries like the USA are struggling to cope with the pandemic, we can only imagine what Yemen is going through.
Why can’t we send help? Blockades. The Saudi military along with the USA currently has a blockade on Yemeni sea, air and land ports, which means we cannot send aid. In November 2017, the block was constricted even further following the launch of a missile towards Riyadh.
2/3rds of Yemen's population is at acute risk of starvation. As of March 2020, over 2 million children under the age of five were suffering from malnutrition. This is perhaps the worst famine that the world has seen in a 100 years.
As if the situation wasn’t terrible already, there have been heavy rains and floods since mid-April. Homes, shelters and most infrastructure has been completely destroyed, clean water is available almost nowhere in the country and due to the damaged electrical lines there has been a power outage in Aden since April 21st.
Right now, Yemen desperately needs humanitarian assistance and a ceasefire from all warring parties, including the Houthis and Saudi Arabia. Restrictions on emergency aid must be lifted for us to help in any way we can. We must act now to help the humanitarian situation in Yemen.
As of June 2020, the UN issued a plea for financial aid, so donate whatever you can! You can donate to UNICEF, Save the Children, muslimhands.org and Islamic Relief. Everyone should do their part and sign any and all petitions they come across; it takes less than a minute, but can end up saving the lives of thousands.