The ongoing conflict in Yemen is one of the worst humanitarian crises of today. However, the atrocities and violence in the region rarely makes headlines in the news. While the conflict has been ongoing for over five years, the situation remains grim. A new report from the Associated Press found that Houthi rebels have blocked nearly half of United Nations aid from being effectively placed within the country, which has affected the lives of millions of starving Yemenis.
An overview of the conflict
The conflict in Yemen can be traced back to the Arab Spring in 2011, when President Ali Abdullah Saleh was overthrown and replaced by Yemeni politician and former Field Marshal of the Yemeni Armed Forces Abdrabbun Mansur Hadi. After years of food insecurity and joblessness under the new regime, the Houthis — Shia supporters of Saleh — gained control of Sana’a, Yemen’s capital. The Houthis forced Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia.
Since then, Hadi and his forces, which are backed by Saudi Arabia and the United States, have been fighting the Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran, in an effort to retake the capital and northern Yemen.
Both sides have suffered great losses. Throughout the relentless fighting, innocent civilians have suffered from airstrikes, blockades, and a Cholera outbreak. According to the UN, about 17,700 civilians have been killed or injured, 3.3 million people have been displaced, 17.8 million do not have access to clean water and 20 million are food insecure.
What’s happening with the aid?
On February 18, 2020, the AP reported that Houthi rebels have blocked the UN from administering about half of its aid within the country until certain Houthi demands are met.
For example, hundreds of thousands of nursing mothers and small children have not received nutritional supplements for months because the Houthis demanded a 2% tax on all aid entering Houthi territory. Because of Houthi demands and the lack of accountability for aid, the World Food Program (WFP) is considering cutting back its aid to Yemen, which would be devastating for the millions of people who rely on aid to save them from starvation.
The Houthis, on the other hand, have denied claims of suspending aid within their territory and claim that they will be fine without the assistance of the UN.
The problems with aid implementation place the UN in a difficult position. The UN will either have to work with the Houthis, or decrease aid, which could leave millions of innocent civilians vulnerable, but the organization has yet to make a public statement on the matter.
Read more about the situation: https://apnews.com/edb2cad767ccbf898c220e54c199b6d9