Tajwar Shelim gives us a sobering look at the dire situation in Yemen.
One of the oldest bastions of civilisation, residing towards the Southern mountains of the Arab Peninsula, lies one of the most ancient cultures we know of today. Bordered between Saudi Arabia to the North, the Red Sea to the West and the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea to the South, Yemen lies as the crossing point between the Western and Eastern world for millennia. A trade hub since 5000 BC, Yemen has acted as an empirical strategic location for countless centuries. In today’s current climate, however, Yemen has seen one of the largest humanitarian crises ever before, with more than 75% of its population under imminent threat of bombing raids, military occupation, severe malnourishment, deadly famine and more.
“It all starts with the Arab Spring of 2011, the toppling of multiple Arab regimes and political unrest led to the Yemeni public rallying with mass demonstrations against the government “
So how did this prominent, and ancient civilisation escalate to the scenario we see unfold today, and how has it resorted in so many innocents losing their lives? It all starts with the Arab Spring of 2011, the toppling of multiple Arab regimes and political unrest led to the Yemeni public rallying with mass demonstrations against the government in relation to poverty, rampant corruption and unemployment. As a result, the President stepped down and the Vice President took power and retained it through a landslide election. Why was the election so one-sided? He was the only candidate. It’s no surprise the issues continued.
“In 2014, the Rebels in Star Wars-like fashion seized control of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a and succeeded in taking over the government.”
The rise of ISIS, or Daesh, had made sweeping ground within Iraq and Syria, radicalising and destabilising the region, and an Al-Qaeda affiliate insurgency also sprouted to add to the madness. The main rival to the Yemeni government, who orchestrated the demonstrations and successfully impeached the President is nevertheless the Houthi rebels. In 2014, the Rebels in Star Wars-like fashion seized control of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a and succeeded in taking over the government. The insurrection led to a coalition effort formed of Arab nations along the United States to amass a large, multi-national offensive in Yemen. The US has spent over $140 million in arms in Yemen, and Western Powers have co-ordinated more than 14 000 airstrikes since 2009.
The main issue we should be focused on here is still the concern for the Yemeni people, who are on the brink of mass extinction. With Yemen’s arid climate, one of the most imperative issues is water scarcity. Yemen is the poorest nation in the Middle East, its oil reserves are tangible compared to their Arab counterparts and heavy restrictions, boycotting and air bombings have led to agriculture being the only surviving industry. The issue this creates is that agriculture uses 90% of Yemen’s water supply and only generates 6% of their GDP. The Times of London quoted that “Yemen could become the first nation to run out of water.”
The current situation is dire, and a humanitarian calamity. 80% of the Yemeni population does not have access to a regular water supply and relentless bombing campaigns have annihilated industry, infrastructure and pretty much anything left standing. This situation isn’t helped by two cyclones that erupted within the past three years causing major flash flooding along with catastrophic damage and famine. To top off this already lovely situation, the unprecedented rainfall was the perfect climate for locust breeding. Locust (grasshopper-like insects) swarms have thus amassed in their millions flying hundreds of miles devouring any and all remaining agriculture, crops and pretty much any life left.
“If help doesn’t reach them soon, we could see one of the worst humanitarian crises of this millennium.”
Since January 2015 more than 20 000 people have been killed in Yemen, over half were civilians, and most of them children. Currently, CNN reports more than 10 million Yemenis are deprived of food, water and electricity, and more than five million have been internally displaced and left as refugees as their homes and livelihoods have been utterly destroyed. Oxfam stated that over 10 million Yemenis are constantly suffering from malnourishment and severe dehydration, with more than a million of them children.
The main issue to take away from this is that 80% of the total population is in dire need of aid. That’s 80% of an entire country, 20 million people. And if help doesn’t reach them soon, we could see one of the worst humanitarian crises of this millennium.
This is the fifth article in a weekly column on current issues and topics of general knowledge and interest, run by Marthe Rossaak. If you are interested in contributing, please email your draft to email@example.com