For the past five years, Yemen has been going through the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in years. Eighty percent of the population, 24 million people need humanitarian aid. Children account for half of this, with a child in Yemen dying every 10 minutes from starvation. Add to this the coronavirus that is plaguing the world, and you can begin to understand how dire the situation in Yemen is.
In 2011, Yemen’s longstanding leader Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to give power to his deputy leader Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Yemen was already struggling with high rates of poverty, attacks by jihadists, food insecurity, and government corruption. The Houthi movement who support Yemen’s Zaidi Shia Muslim minority took advantage of this transition of power and took control of the Northern Saada province. At first, many Yemenis supported this movement and soon the Houthis took over the capital of Sanaa. The Houthi’s and forces loyal to the former president Saleh attempted to take over the country. President Hadi had to flee the country in March 2015. This alarmed Yemen’s neighboring countries and a coalition led by Sunni Arab states such as Saudi Arabia began to launch airstrikes against the Houthi’s. It was believed that the Houthis were supported by Shia Arab power Iran. The coalition led by the Sunni Arab states was supported by other international powers such as the U.S, the U.K, and France.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia predicted that this conflict would only last a few months, but it has since been over five years. The coalition had been able to drive the Houthi’s south during the fighting in 2015. President Hadi’s government has taken a foothold of Aden, but he is still unable to provide basic needs for his people such as food, and security. He is currently based in Saudi Arabia. The Houthis continue to control Sanaa and Northwest Yemen. In September 2019, Saudi Arabia’s eastern oil fields of Abqaiq and Khurais were attacked. This attack disrupted Saudi Arabia’s oil supply which accounted for 5% of the world’s oil supply.
The fighting has continued with many ceasefires being brokered and broken over the years. And while other countries fight for a piece of land, it is the people of Yemen who are suffering. The death toll from the fighting is believed to be as high as 100,000 people with 23,000 deaths in 2019. But the death toll from preventable causes such as poor health, and malnutrition is just as high. It’s believed that 85,000 children died from severe acute malnutrition between April 2015 and October 2018. Millions of people do not have access to clean water, and the largest Cholera outbreak ever recorded, has resulted in 2.2 million suspected cases and 3,895 deaths. In total, 3.65 million people have been displaced because of this conflict.
Unfortunately, the crisis in Yemen has not been heavily covered by international media and it of course has been overshadowed by the world’s fight against the Coronavirus. Many would argue that we need to care about this crisis because of Yemen’s position in the world as a part of the world’s oil supply. And while this is important, the real reason we should care is about the millions of people who are suffering unnecessarily in a conflict that is based on land and power. While there is no easy solution to end this conflict, there are ways that we can help those who need it most: the Yemeni men, women, and children. These organizations are collecting donations to aid the Yemeni people: