By Alireza Azizi, AIUSA Yemen Country Specialist
As the war in Ukraine is causing destruction and loss of life; as refugees escape war and destruction and are being welcomed by their neighboring countries; as many countries and communities are helping to provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine; as the news media concentrates on covering the devastation and flight of refugees, we should not forget other wars’ destruction and misery happening in other parts of the world.
The war in Yemen has entered its seventh year. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), nearly a quarter of a million people
people have been killed, 4 million are internally displaced and 20.7 million are in need of humanitarian assistance (60% of population). In Yemen the majority of the deaths have been due to hunger, disease and the humanitarian crisis caused by the war. According to UNICEF, some 2.2 million children under five are acutely malnourished and more than half a million children suffer from acute malnutrition, a life-threatening condition.
The UN has been warning for a while that Yemen is speeding towards massive famine. In the UN March 1st pledging event for Yemen at a donor conference, $1.7 billion was raised. The figure is less than half of what is needed to fight famine in Yemen.
Last month Congress set up a hearing on the use of cluster bombs in Ukraine, but when the Saudi-led coalition used cluster bombs in Yemen, Congress did not set up a similar hearing and continued providing arms to the Saudi-led coalition. On 20 January 2022, the Saudi-led coalition used precision-guided munition made in the United States in an air strike on a detention center in Sa’adah, north-western Yemen, which killed at least 80 people and injured over 200.
Are Yemeni children different from Ukrainian children? Yemeni children deserve the same humanitarian support as Ukrainian children are receiving worldwide. Yemeni people should not die of hunger.
Quoting UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie following her recent visit to Yemen, “It is heart breaking. It is infuriating. Above all, because this is a man-made crisis that must be ended.”
The people of Yemen deserve better. The time to act for Yemen is now!