Your guide to understanding the humanitarian crisis and how to help.
(Ale Orozco / Rowdy Magazine Social Media Designer)
Years before COVID-19 became such a predictable conversation topic, Yemen was facing the early stages of what would presently become the worst humanitarian crisis in the last 100 years.
The country is currently grappling with a war-induced famine, an epidemic and a pandemic. If you weren’t aware, it’s probably because there hasn’t been nearly enough media coverage surrounding the issue. Let’s catch up.
How Did We Get Here?
According to the United Nations, an alarming 80% of the Yemeni population (24 million people) are in need of assistance. How exactly does this happen?
Well, beginning in 2011, the country was sent into turmoil after an attempted (and failed) political transition. Arab Spring had just successfully overthrown dictatorships, and Yemenis were hopeful. A lot of shit has gone down since then, however.
In 2015, Houthi forces took control of the capital and the government has been in their hands ever since. There is no foreseeable end to this civil war.
The internal feud destroyed the infrastructure of the Middle East territory that was rapidly transitioning into a war zone.
In 2016, a Cholera outbreak swept over Yemen and is still relentless today. In case you didn’t know, Cholera is “a disease of acute watery diarrhea” that can be spread by drinking liquids or eating foods contaminated by the Cholera bacteria.
As a result of constant airstrikes and bombing, the hospitals and resources needed to combat an epidemic of this scale were simply not available. So, the disease wasn’t able to get controlled.
With enough obstacles as it is, Yemen is now additionally suffering from COVID-19, meaning that the country is quite literally experiencing a crisis within a crisis.
In UNICEF’s briefing of the issue, it explained that, “Sanitation and clean water are in short supply. Only half of the health facilities are functioning, and many that remain operational lack basic equipment like masks and gloves, let alone oxygen and other essential supplies to treat the coronavirus. Many health workers are receiving no salaries or incentives.”
Let’s just say Trump should write a book and title it “How do I capitalize on a country’s pain and loss 101!”
Trump is currently monetizing the crisis through the creation of more jobs. One of the biggest contributors is the Raytheon Company, an American military-grade weapon manufacturer that has made an estimated $3 billion in new bomb sales to Saudi Arabia in 2015, with these numbers on a steady incline since.
The consequence of this involvement? According to the New York Times, “Mr. Trump’s embrace of arms sales has helped prolong a conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people” in Yemen.
Our constant militant and arms-related contributions to the civil war play a significant role in Yemen’s inability to rebuild and recover.
So why haven’t we pulled out and started providing actual help? Good question, man.
In 2019, Trump vetoed a resolution passed by Congress that would essentially end U.S. military involvement in the war on Yemen’s land. For him, our military involvement means more sales and a boost to the American economy. And you know, not the deaths of thousands of civilians — including American journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In an excerpt from The Guardian, president of the International Rescue Committee, David Miliband stated that, “This veto by President Trump is morally wrong and strategically wrongheaded. It sets back the hopes for respite for the Yemeni people, and leaves the US upholding a failed strategy.”
However, I would be remiss not to mention that America’s initial involvement with Yemen began during the Obama administration which interjected us into the Saudi-led war in 2015. Essentially, the administration oversaw the gifting of American weapons that the Saudis used in the Yemen war.
What Can I Do?
I’m glad you asked.
The heartbreaking truth is that innocent civilians, especially children, are dying at an overwhelmingly high rate. Now that you know, here are some places that are actively trying to help.
Educate yourself, sign some damn petitions and donate if you can. #FREEMENA
Madeline Murphy is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. She’s currently studying Journalism with a minor in Women’s Studies. Madeline can be found making Apple Music playlists, trying Nigella Lawson recipes and binging SATC. She’s fiercely passionate about social justice and the power of words.