Yemen’s Unending War

Since our childhood, we were told that famine causes by Nature. But the continuing and unending Yemen war defies this claim. Yemenis, in the twenty-first century, are facing the worst humanitarian crisis created by the war since 2015. More than 18,500 innocent people have lost their lives when the conflict started between rebel Houthis and Saudi back Hadi’s government. The conflict has forced 3.6 million people to flee their homes. Around 1.8 million children are the victim of moderate acute malnutrition and four lacs are under severe acute malnutrition. Horrifically, Eighty percent of the population are in need of humanitarian assistance and the situation will deteriorate further unless the opposing side agrees to a ceasefire or dispute settlement.

Although the humanitarian aid agencies are doing their job with full sincerity, it is not the remedy to overcome the problem of Yemenis. If it was, then it could have slowed down the hardship being endured by them. The political problem needs a political solution and the Yemen crisis can be addressed through political and diplomatic means by key stakeholders involved in the conflict.

Even if political stability achieved, the economic and psychological loss happened, will take years to stabilize.  Food insecurity which was there before the conflict is further increased as an estimated 47,000 people are likely in a “catastrophic” level of food insecurity and 16 million people are in the condition of “crisis” or “emergency” food requirements. The health care system is on the verge of collapse; medical facilities have been destroyed, there are shortages of medicine and severe malnutrition among children, health system further worsened with cholera and the outbreak of the pandemic.

While the number of patients is increasing from these diseases, health workers are decreasing because of the disruptions in higher education to produce more health professionals. The requirements of healthcare professionals are below the international standards. For 10,000 patients there are only 10 workers. Further, beyond the physical casualties and destruction of infrastructure, the majority of Yemenis, particularly children, are challenged mentally.  The 2020 survey by Save the Children, an International NGO, revealed the years of War have psychologically impacted the entire generation of Children and have put some on the brink of depression.

A boy born shortly after the start of the Saudi-led offensive told the Media outlet that “Shelling doesn’t terrify me. They are far away on the front and not here”. His father said he behaves differently from his other kids, who get scared by hearing the voices of shelling. A teacher from Taiz governorate has the same views on children’s mental hood, by noting their behaviors, “We can’t always see the impact of the war on their faces, but it is clear from their words and culture, and that’s definitely dangerous for children” he added.

These children if grown-up, will have very little to contribute to their country: socially, politically, technologically, and economically. Constructive and creative children require a conducive environment and physical fitness, which both are missing in Yemen. However, the condition is not in favor of returning to normalcy, at the time, Ansarullah (Houthis) has rejected the ceasefire proposal of Saudi Arabia. On the assumption that the situation gets normal, how will the government feed and educate their population?

There are no alternative or reconstruction plans proposed by the actors involved in the conflict. The country is mostly run on foreign assistance, but recently it also shows a decline. A donor conference hosted by the United Nations; raised $1.7 billion, a very small amount to avert the famine and respond to the crisis. The blame for the Yemen destruction can put on all the parties who become part of the conflict directly or indirectly. The arms deals of the Obama administration and the subsequent logistical support of former President Donald Trump, to the de facto Crown Prince MBS, converted the conflict of few months into years.

Not to mention here the role of Iran, whose Iranian Revolutionary Guards Force has provided “advisory and intellectual” supports to the Houthis. Saudi Arabia has accused them of supplying military equipment to the rebels. The incursion of regional power into the Yemen conflict is often referred to as a Cold War between Saudi Arabia and Iran and their allies.

In these scenarios where all the state and non-state actors are pursuing their own interests, the constructive role can be played by the United Nations by resolving the conflict through diplomatic means and bounding all the parties to play their due role in the reconstruction of Yemen.