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      Who is Behind the World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen?

      By Azza Rojbi

      “Yemen is the country with the most depleted water sources across the globe; Yemen today is also the country with almost the highest level of malnutrition. What has happened in the last two and a half years, throughout Yemen has of course only exacerbated what was already a very sad reality. Today we estimate that every ten minutes a child in Yemen is dying from preventable diseases. The massive and unprecedented outbreak of acute watery diarrhea and cholera this year is no surprise. As you know, close to one million Yemenis have been affected by acute watery diarrhea and cholera.” This is how Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for Middle East and North Africa, described the humanitarian situation in Yemen at a press conference on November 26, 2017.

      In the same press briefing, Cappelaere also commented on the arrival of a UNICEF shipment of vaccines to the airport in Sana’a “It was our first delivery of humanitarian supplies to Sana’a airport since the 6th of November[…] We are very grateful for what we could achieve yesterday.

      However, this is not enough, much, much more is needed.” Not once in his statement did Cappelaere mention the reason behind the human tragedy in Yemen, or even the reason why UNICEF and other human rights organization haven’t been able to deliver desperately needed aid to the people and children of Yemen!

      The U.S. backed Saudi-led coalition's war and blockade of Yemen is at the root of this crisis. Saudi Arabia is not only subjecting the people of Yemen to daily bombing and attacks, but is also imposing a land, sea, and areal blockade on the country. It might be true that the Saudi-led coalition has let in some humanitarian aid to Yemen, but it is very little compared to the magnitude of the human tragedy on the ground.

      There cannot be an improvement to the life of Yemeni people without a complete stopping of the bombing and war so that humanitarian aid can be properly distributed and reconstruction efforts can begin. Saudi-led airstrikes have damaged and destroyed homes, schools, hospitals, markets, mosques, universities, roads, and other vital civilian infrastructure. This has left millions of Yemenis without access to basic necessities. The shortage in fuel, food and medicine caused by the Saudi-led blockade on the country has aggravated the humanitarian crisis.

      In a news release from November 17, 2017, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), announced that "the water and sewage systems in Hodeida, Sa'ada and Taiz stopped operating because of a lack of fuel […] As a result, close to one million people are now deprived of clean water and sanitation in crowded urban environments in a country slowly emerging from the worst cholera outbreak in modern times.”

      According to the United Nations, more than 20 million people in Yemen, including over 11 million children, are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. The Saudi government wants us to believe that it is imposing this war and blockade against the Yemeni people to bring stability to the region and stop the influence of Iran! Why starve millions of poor Yemeni families then? What have the children of Yemen ever done to deserve being robbed of their childhood and future?

      How did all of this start?

      Saudi Arabia continues to claim that it is fighting to bring back legitimacy and stability to Yemen, and the region, by reinstating Yemen's former president Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi. Hadi’s presidential term expired, he resigned, fled the country, and is currently hiding with his masters in Riyadh! Any claim of legitimacy is a farce!

      Backed by the United States, the Saudi-led coalition started its bombing campaign on Yemen called “Operation Decisive Storm”, in March 2015. Within a month of their indiscriminate bombing campaign, the Saudi government claimed success and announced the end of “Operation Decisive Storm” and the start of a reconstruction effort named “Operation Renewal of Hope”.

      It has been over two and a half years since the start of the Saudi war on Yemen and there is no end or hope in sight! The so called “Operation Renewal of Hope” has only brought death and destruction upon the Yemeni people and created what the UN and other human rights organization refer to as "the world's worst humanitarian crisis.”

      The United States government is a direct accomplice of all the atrocities committed by the Saudi government against the people of Yemen. Since day one, Saudi Arabia had the full backing of the U.S. in its bombing campaign. The U.S. military has been providing coalition fighter jets with mid-air refueling and U.S. surveillance planes have been flying over Yemen in intelligence gathering missions. In addition to all of this, the U.S. has provided the Saudi-led coalition with its political support and has continued selling arms and weapons to Saudi Arabia.

      In his visit to Saudi Arabia in May 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a $350 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, the largest arms deal in American history! The U.K. has also continued supplying weapons and logistical and intelligence support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Neither the U.S, the U.K., Saudi Arabia, or their allies have the well being and future of Yemenis at heart! Their war and aggression on Yemen is part of the U.S. and its imperialist allies' strategy to expand their hegemony in North Africa and the Middle East to block any possible formation of an independent state in Yemen.

      Canada’s complicity

      The government of Canada has been silent on the Saudi government crimes against the people of Yemen. One wonders why? What does the Canadian government have to hide? Maybe the fact that in 2016 “Saudi Arabia was the largest non-U.S. importer of Canadian-made military goods, receiving $142 million in exports — nearly 20 per cent of all Canadian military exports.” as the National Post Newspaper reported.

      In addition, the Trudeau Liberal government is moving ahead with a $15 billion arms deals to supply Saudi Arabia with light-armored vehicles, or LAVs manufactured by General Dynamics. A CBC News article titled “Let's not kid ourselves, Canada is in the war business”, describes the government's eagerness to go forward with this arms deal despite Saudi Arabia’s despicable human rights record : “And so enthusiastic is the Liberal government about its wealthy Arabian partner [Saudi Arabia] that the Canadian military is allowing General Dynamics to use a military base to test the vehicles Canada is shipping, which come equipped with heavy guns and cannon."

      The article continues, "We do know that Canadian-made vehicles were used in the bloody repression of Bahrain's Shia population a few years ago. Whether they are deployed in Yemen is unclear, and it's a safe bet the Canadian government isn't terribly interested in finding out. We also know that last summer, Canada quietly rewrote the rules governing the export of arms to other countries. No longer do such exports hinge on whether the recipient nation is a human rights abuser. Instead, the Canadian rules now strive to ‘balance the economic and commercial interests of Canadian business’ with this country's ‘national interest.’ ” Furthermore, Canada has exported $11.4 million worth of rifles to Saudi Arabia this year, a 67% increase from last year according to iPolitics.

      It becomes clear, that no matter how many millions of dollars Canada pledges to the UN relief efforts in Yemen, the Canadian government can no longer hide its military, political, and ideological support for the Saudi government and its war on Yemen.

      U.S., U.K., Canada and Saudi Arabia Hands Off Yemen! As peace-loving people in Canada and around the world, we must hold governments accountable for their support and complicity with the Saudi government in its brutal war on Yemen. We must unite our efforts and voices internationally to call for an immediate end to the Saudi-led coalition bombing campaign in Yemen and a complete lifting of the blockade imposed on the country.

      The Yemeni people have continued their steadfast resistance against the Saudi-led war on their country. Let’s join them in their fight for dignity, freedom and sovereignty! Stop Bombing Yemen! Lift the Naval, Aerial and Land Blockade on Yemen!

      Follow Azza Rojbi on Twitter: @Azza_R14

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