According to the Yemen Data Project, 8,878 air-raids have been carried out in Yemen in the last 17 months. The civil war in Yemen started in March 2015 and since then 10,000 people have died, almost 20 a day. For comparison, 7,841 civilian deaths occurred in the first year of the Syrian conflict. The U.S. should be worried about what’s happening in Yemen if they don’t want to repeat the loss of life in Syria. Currently the aid situation is so dire that the Red Cross is donating morgues to hospitals. Yemen is labeled as a ‘level 3’ emergency by the UN ― it’s highest level ― where 70 percent of the population is food insecure and 3 million people are displaced. Doctors without Borders left Northern Yemen in August because their hospitals “full of patients, including newborns and children” were attacked four times “despite the fact that MSF has systematically shared the GPS coordinates of [their] hospitals.”
A Washington Post story recently reported that the conflict in Syria “will probably last at least another decade.” One of the points that the cited research makes is “civil wars are longer and bloodier than average when foreign powers intervene” and “civil wars are longer than average when they don’t end by negotiated settlement.”
The same situation exists in Yemen today. The Houthis, who support the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, have received support and training from Iran. However it has been suggested that they aren’t Iranian proxies. Saudi Arabia is supported by the U.S., UK and France and now the Hadi government “says the political process can only proceed if UN Security Council resolution 2216, which calls for the rebels to withdraw from all areas they control and lay down their arms, is fully implemented.”
In March, Human Rights Watch argued that countries should stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia, citing strikes against residential areas, hospitals, schools, markets, and mosques. A UN Panel documented 119 coalition attacks relating to violations of international humanitarian law. The same panel documented three alleged cases of civilians fleeing residential bombings and being chased and shot at by helicopters. HRW also pointed to the use of internationally-banned cluster munitions. These have been supplied by the U.S. and have been used in or around civilians in Yemen. The UK and Saudi Arabia were also in a vote-trading deal to secure Saudi Arabia a seat on the UN human rights council. And the UN was bullied into taking Saudi Arabia off of a children and armed conflict report. Since March 2015 the U.S. has sold more than $20 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia, the UK £3.7 billion, and France $500 million.
More recently, thousands of Yemeni Shia gathered in the capital to support a Houthi government and, this month, Saudi-led airstrikes killed 140 people at a wedding in Sana’a, Yemen. On October 13, the U.S. made their first strikes in the conflict after missile attacks near a Navy ship.
Air raids occur across Yemen day and night. The people are scared. Their friends and family are getting killed around them. They have nowhere to go. They are food insecure. They can’t sleep. The U.S. and the rest of the coalition must stop arming Yemen. The U.S. needs to bring peace to the region and, as Jimmy Carter recently said about Syria, Stop the Killing. Until then, these people are being held hostage.
For a glimpse of what it’s like to survive in Yemen right now, the Guardian has some amazing coverage and the New York Times has a story about a family in Sana’a ― ‘We Sleep Afraid, We Wake Up Afraid.’