The World’s Largest Ignored Humanitarian Crisis

Image/Tyler Hicks

Image/Tyler Hicks

The world’s biggest Humanitarian crisis ever recorded in modern history is occurring in Yemen at this very moment. Unexpectedly, the U.S is complicit in the war on Yemen, however, the majority of the American public isn’t aware.

Yemen is located right under its neighboring country, Saudi Arabia, which plays a crucial role in the war on Yemen.

Yemen is home to a population of about 28 million people. The civil war that arose in 2015 has since dragged the poorest country in the Middle East into a complete catastrophe. The combination of a massive cholera outbreak, famine, economic crisis, and war has resulted in Yemen appearing as a genuine apocalypse, and children are ones who are ultimately affected.  

Here is a quick summary you need to know of the background of this complicated conflict. Saudi Arabia, the northern neighboring country of Yemen, sparked the war on March 27th, 2015. They are in a war with the Houthis, a large Iranian-backed rebel Yemeni group composed of about 200,000 fighters, who now control a large portion of Yemen.  But why is Saudi Arabia butting in to fight the Houthis you ask? Here is why: The Yemeni president escaped of being killed by the Houthis through Saudi Arabia’s borders and has handed his power to the Saudis. Essentially, the Yemeni government is now controlled by Saudi Arabia and they are trying to restore the internationally recognized government of Yemen by launching an air campaign against the Houthis, who are backed by one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest adversaries: Iran. Yemen has essentially become a battleground of a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, where Yemenis are paying the ultimate price.

Through the fighting, mass civilian casualties and deaths have been reported. More than 3 million Yemenis are displaced. Half of the country’s health facilities and infrastructures have been shut down due to the attacks on them. Additionally, the Saudi blockade on Yemen’s airports and seaports has also made foreign humanitarian aid extremely difficult to enter the country.

According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), there are more than 22 million people, about 80% of the population, who are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 11 million children. These aren’t hundreds of children, there are millions, who are forcibly being pulled into unlivable and dire circumstances. More than 58,000 children have already died from extreme hunger and malnutrition. Children are diminishing each day and slowly becoming mere bones and flesh until they lose their wretched fight of survival. Approximately 10,000 civilians have died as a result of the conflict; Planes, bombs, and explosions have wiped out entire homes, building, and centers.

Two years ago, Saudi Arabia claimed to ‘mistakenly’ bomb a funeral, where about 145 civilians died and many injured. Just 8 months ago Saudi Arabia bombed a school bus full of children on a trip. More than 40 children under the age of 10 were murdered. The few remainders of surviving children who were rushed to the hospital were captured by photographers with blood gushing through their faces and their UNICEF bags still on their backs. The killing of innocent civilians and children is not a mere ‘mistake’. These are evident war crimes of Saudi Arabia and they must be held accountable.

Yet, one lingering question remains… how is the U.S complicit in this War? The U.S assists Saudi Arabia’s air campaign on Yemen by providing arms, mid-air warplane refueling, and intelligence operations. The war on Yemen is unconstitutional and completely unauthorized by Congress; The power for the U.S to be involved in a war, does not lie with the President, but with Congress's approval, and this war was never approved by Congress.

On April 5, 2019, justice fighters for Yemen gained an enormous victory. The House passed the Yemen War Powers Resolution introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Mike Lee, which ends any kind of U.S support for the war in Yemen.

President Donald Trump, however, threatens to use the first veto of his presidency on this bill. We are envisioning the future optimistically, however, if the bill ends up getting vetoed, we will continue to fight against worsening this humanitarian crisis. We will continue to pressure the government, and most importantly Donald Trump, that as Americans, we do not support being complicit in the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and do not support countries who do not withhold our American values and basic international law.