There is a humanitarian crisis unfolding in Yemen as aid agencies struggle to provide urgent humanitarian supplies to the region.
A Saudi-Arabia led coalition has initiated an air, water and road blockade to the region.
The modern Republic of Yemen is a relatively new state. Prior to becoming the modern state of Yemen, several dynasties emerged from the ninth to 16th centuries to rule the region. The most powerful one was the Rasulid dynasty. In early 20th century, the country was divided between the Ottoman and British empires in the early twentieth century. South Yemen became a communist country and North Yemen remained traditional to its roots. In 1990, the two regions merged.
Yemen, one of the world’s poorest countries in the world, has been devastated by the war between forces loyal to the internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement. The Yemen Civil war began in 2011 with the Arab Spring protests that led to the fall of the then President Ali Abdallah Saleh on charges of corruption and economic grievances. Hadi, his deputy minister at that time, took over the region. However, the increasing political instability in Yemen paved the way for the Houthi, representing the Shiite minority to take over the territory.
A military intervention was launched by Saudi Arabia in 2015, to influence the Civil War in Yemen. A two-year Saudi-led campaign has damaged infrastructure and caused shortage of medicine in one of the most poorest Arab country. Reports have also emerged that there are players within Yemen who actively sponsor terrorism by funding activities conducted by ISIS.
The Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out air strikes against the Houthi rebels for more than 2 years now. Since then the country has been plunged into a civil war in which the exiled government backed by Saudi Arabia is trying to defeat the Houthi group aligned with Iran.
In March 2017, 22 people died and several were wounded because of a Saudi-led attack in western region near the Red Sea fishing town of Khoukha. The Yemen war has led to 10,000 deaths and more than 3 million people have been displaced. According to United Nations Food Program, nearly half of Yemen’s population is on a verge of famine.
In November 2017, Saudi Arabia has reported that the region’s military had intercepted a Yemen-borne ballistic missile over Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has stated that Iran has armed the rebels in Yemen – a charge denied by Iran. After the missile was intercepted, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said providing rockets to the rebels "may be considered an act of war". A Saudi-led coalition closed land, air and sea borders.
In addition, UN and other aid agencies have been unable to provide urgent humanitarian supplies to Yemen endangering the lives of millions. The International Committee of the Red Cross has revealed that Sanaa, the country's capital lacks clean water. A shortage of fuel caused by the Saudi-led blockade has caused pumping stations to shut down. The nation is also in the midst of the worst outbreak of cholera recorded. Media reports have said that vital supplies are being allowed into ports in government-controlled areas. However, UN has stated that only by completely lifting the blockade would the humanitarian crisis be addressed.
Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said: “The position is very precarious. One of the aid shipments contains medicine to combat the cholera outbreak, and the other urgently needed food aid including grains and rice.”
Saudi Arabia has claimed that humanitarian aid shipments are being used to smuggle arms, ammunition and missile parts into Yemen and has demanded that inspection systems at the ports are tightened, with greater Saudi oversight. McGoldrick insisted there was no evidence of arms smuggling. “There is no case when a humanitarian shipment or cargo has been found to have anything on board but humanitarian aid,” he said. “The same goes for UN flights.”
McGoldrick insisted he was not seeking to take sides in the war. “We all recognise the concerns the Saudis have after the missile attack, but that has to be balanced against the scale of the crisis, the threat of famine and the 17 million lives dependent on humanitarian assistance, and the requirement for fuel so as to be able to pump clean water for 4 million people. With the port blocked, it makes life very precarious. We are very worried that the gains we have made on cholera and food scarcity are being reversed.”
Our assessment is that the lives of millions in Yemen is at risk as the blockade continues. The nation, which is among the poorest in the world, is also dealing with the worst recorded cholera outbreak. If emergency medical, food and water supplies cannot reach the region, then civilians will not be able to survive.