Yemen has been devastated by a humanitarian crisis that has sadly stretched for more than 5 years now. Roughly 24 million people, including 12.3 million children, are in dire need of compensation and relief.

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have led a coalition of states in Yemen against Houthi forces that, in alliance with former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, took over Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, in September 2014. Following this, President Hadi and the members of his government were compelled to leave. 25th March marked the beginning of a full-blown loaded conflict since the Coalition launched an aerial bombing operation against Houthi troops. During the course of the past five years, the clash has escalated greatly, engulfing the entire country– and has seen a proliferation in the parties to the conflict, including several Coalition-backed armed groups.

The parties at war in Yemen have committed severe offences to international humanitarian laws. Residential neighbourhoods in Yemen continue to get haphazardly shelled by Houthi forces. They are also launching missiles indiscriminately into Saudi Arabia. The Coalition supported the internationally recognized Yemeni government yet continued to carry out extensive attacks and bomb civilian infrastructure, fatally injuring and even murdering hundreds of innocent civilians.

Harmless people are being abused on a daily basis. The Human Rights Watch group disclosed that the abuses include arbitrary arrests, artillery attacks, unlawful airstrikes, enforced disappearances and illicit transfer of detainees to Saudi Arabia along with blocking and impeding humanitarian access since June 2019.

The continued conflict led to a political and security vacuum and the establishment of a safe haven for armed groups and militias, assisted by outside states. An investigation by Amnesty International revealed that children as young as eight years old are raped in the Yemeni city of Ta’iz. The suspected perpetrators, including members of militias backed by the Coalition, are yet to be held accountable.

Despite overwhelming evidence that arms are being used in war crimes and other serious offences in Yemen, states such as the USA, UK, France and other European countries continue to supply arms to Coalition members, in breach of obligations including the Global Arms Trade Treaty for states parties as well as EU law and domestic laws.

Now more than ever, during a global pandemic, epidemic (cholera) and famine, Yemeni citizens are deprived of necessary healthcare. A child under the age of 5 dies every 10 minutes of preventable causes in Yemen, noted the UN Humanitarian Chief. 70% of minors do not have access to clean water and sanitation. According to UNICEF, 2 million kids were out of school before Covid-19 and now an additional 5 million are away, increasing their risk of exploitation and abuse at a time when child protection services and medical facilities have essentially collapsed.

Nevertheless, in the darkness of war, there are some glimpses of hope. Thanks to the crucial intervention by humanitarian partners, such as UNICEF, Save the Children, War Child and Project Hope, who established 26 cholera treatment centres and launched a massive containment campaign through water and sanitation interventions (among other things), the cholera outbreak which started in October is now in decline. Furthermore, Save the Children organisation provided 1.1 million children with a healthy start to life and supported 98,000 parents to provide for their ward’s basic needs.

 

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little”- Edmund Burke.

To do one’s part, one can provide assistance and relief through various methods. Beneficial acts include donating money to food and medical aid organisations like UNICEF and Red Cross, physically volunteering in Yemen by applying useful skills like fluency in Arabic or experience as a doctor/nurse and signing up to be a United Nations volunteer. Little by little, a little becomes a lot.

– Adya Chauhan, Amity International School, Noida

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