“This is the world’s worst cholera outbreak in the midst of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. In the last three months alone, 400,000 cases of suspected cholera and nearly 1900 associated deaths have been recorded. Vital health, water and sanitation facilities have been crippled by more than two years of hostilities, and created the ideal conditions for diseases to spread.”
The above is an excerpt from a joint statement by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program (WFP). The statement was released on July 26, 2017, after the heads of these three UN agencies traveled to Yemen to see for themselves the extent of the dire situation in the country.
Humanitarian Crisis Intensifies
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been worsening. The country continues to be under daily attacks and bombings by Saudi fighter jets. Backed by the United States, the Saudi-led coalition began its bombing campaign on Yemen in March 2015 under the pretense of restoring legitimacy and stability to Yemen.
Today, over two years since the beginning of the war and over 13,000 civilian casualties later, the country is sinking into more death and destruction. The heavy bombardment by the Saudi-led coalition has destroyed hospitals, schools, mosques, homes, roads and other vital infrastructure. Coupled with the inhuman naval, aerial and land blockade imposed on the country by Saudi Arabia, Yemen faces huge shortages of many essential items, including food, fuel and medical supplies.
Hospitals and clinics that have so-far survived the Saudi-led bombing are not adequately equipped to deal with the country’s healthcare needs. The absence of proper sanitary and water infrastructure has created a breeding ground for the spread of cholera in Yemen.
Being an infectious disease, cholera can kill within hours if left untreated. The lack of access to medical care and the poor living conditions of people, especially in rural parts of Yemen, has aggravated the spread of the disease. Families are faced with either selling their belongings in order to be able to afford the travel costs for treatment, or walking for hours in extreme terrains to reach the closest functional healthcare centre.
Malnourished children are more vulnerable to the disease. According to the charity Save the Children “children under the age of 15 are now accounting for about 44% of new cases and 32% of fatalities in Yemen”. UN organizations have also warned that more than one million children are threatened by this deadly cholera outbreak.
The cholera epidemic represents one aspect of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen. Famine and malnutrition continue to ravage the country. According to the UN World Food Program, “The current level of hunger in Yemen is unprecedented and causing severe hardship for millions of people. Now, 17 million people in the country are food insecure, meaning they do not have enough food. Of these, 6.8 million - that is almost one in four people - are severely food insecure and rely entirely on external assistance. The rate of child malnutrition is one of the highest in the world.”
Who Has Blood on Their Hands?
The cholera outbreak and the humanitarian disaster in Yemen are a direct consequence of the Saudi-led coalition’s targeting of civilians and vital infrastructure, and their disregard for human life. They could not break the resistance of the Yemeni people by military aggression alone, so they have employed a strategy that also uses their military superiority to spread chaos and destruction, in the hope of restoring imperialist hegemony over the country.
But make no mistake! The Saudi-led coalition of mainly gulf countries would have not been able to carry out their military campaign against Yemen without the backing of the United States, the UK and their imperialist allies. The US is accomplice in all the war crimes committed by the Saudi-led coalition against people in Yemen.
Since day one of the war on Yemen, the US government has supported the Saudi-led coalition forces through direct military, intelligence and logistical assistance. US Air Force tankers are being used to refuel Saudi and UAE fighter jets after they drop bombs on Yemen.
In addition, the US and UK have continued selling military equipment to Saudi Arabia and helping its coalition forces to replenish their weapons inventory. In an article by Amnesty International from March 2017, the human rights group reported that “Since the conflict [in Yemen] began two years ago in March 2015, the US and UK have together transferred more than US$5 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia… This is more than 10 times the estimated US $450 million that the US State Department and the UK’s Department for International Development have spent or budgeted to spend in aid to Yemen over the past two years.”
This clearly outlines the real interests of the United States and their imperialist allies. Helping the Yemeni people is not one of them! The hypocrisy of the US is clear; they claim to champion democracy and freedom in the Middle East and North Africa, while at the same time they are backing the war crimes committed by their puppet Saudi Arabia against the innocent Yemeni people. Their main goal is to destroy any prospect of a democratic and independent Yemen, in favour of asserting the US hegemony over the region and pleasing their Saudi pawns.
Hands Off Yemen!
“It used to be better and safer [before the war]. People used to go to their work, the shops were full, we used to go to the market, but now it’s not the same. We don’t have health centres there to care for patients. We have trouble getting basic supplies…
My children were raised in the war. I wish the war would end and our country would go back to how it was before. I don’t feel safe. I feel scared. It’s not like before, when you could go anywhere and still feel safe. However, I’d never leave my country,” said Zahra Hussain from Abs, Yemen in an interview with Doctors Without Borders field workers in Yemen.
Zahra’s words show desperation and anger, but they also underline hope and a deep love to her country, Yemen. This resistance of Yemeni people and their refusal to abandon their land and their rights, is what continues to fuel the resistance to the Saudi-led agression on their country.
All the bombing and destruction caused by Saudi Arabia has failed to destroy the pride and dignity of the Yemeni people. Let’s join them in fighting for their right to life, freedom and sovereignty.
US/Saudi Arabia Hands off Yemen!
Stop Bombing Yemen!
Lift the Naval, Aerial and Land Blockade on Yemen!
Follow Azza Rojbi on Twitter: @Azza_R14
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