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14th of November 2018

Opinion



Yemen’s Famine Could Be ‘The Worst in 100 Years’

The BBC reports on the latest warnings about the dire humanitarian conditions in Yemen:

The United Nations is warning that 13 million people in Yemen are facing starvation.

It’s calling on the military coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, to halt air strikes which are killing civilians, and contributing to what the UN says could become “the worst famine in the world in 100 years”.

It can be difficult to fathom the sheer scale of Yemen’s catastrophe. The U.N. warns that 13 million people are facing starvation if conditions do not improve, and yet Yemen’s humanitarian crisis is not close to being the most urgent priority for the world’s governments. How many millions of people have to be at risk of starving to death before it is recognized as the most important issue in the world? What percentage of a country’s population has to be on the verge of dying from preventable causes before it holds the world’s interest?

Despite being potentially the worst humanitarian disaster in generations, Yemen’s plight is still ignored and neglected by almost everyone. If something good is to come from the recent surge in criticism of the Saudi government, I hope it will be to make everyone see what the Saudis and their allies have done to Yemen and then to do all that can be done to prevent the worst-case scenario from unfolding. Time has already run out for many tens of thousands of Yemenis who have died from preventable causes over the last three and a half years, and if things keep going as they have millions and millions more innocent people are at risk of joining them. Yemen’s population was estimated to be just under 27 million in 2015. The starvation of 13 million people would mean that roughly half the population is on the verge of being wiped out by preventable hunger as a result of an indefensible war.

The starvation of the people of Yemen is a crime against humanity, and it needs to be described as such. It has many authors, but chief among them are the Saudi coalition and their Western patrons, including our government, that escalated this war and have kept it going for years. The governments responsible for the devastation and starvation of Yemen are among the wealthiest in the world, and they are helping to bring about the destruction of one of the world’s poorest countries. They have it within their power to lessen the suffering of millions of people right now, but that will happen only if they halt their campaign, lift the blockade, stabilize the economy, and support a massive relief effort to rescue Yemen’s impoverished, starving people. If that doesn’t happen soon, these governments will be responsible for causing massive loss of life on a horrifying scale.

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