The dire situation in Yemen isn’t just another case of journalists piling on a new story. This one’s been developing for some time, brought to you by the same country that sliced and diced one of their own countrymen in their embassy in Turkey. But back to the starving children. The New York Times Magazine had a devastating piece on Sunday, Nov. 4. It’s a tough read. Here’s what I found out ( while researching my book) about human rights violations in Yemen, carried out by Saudi Arabia with help from its good friend, Don Trump. [see map below]
[from Appendix to Chapter 4 in This Mere Existence]:
4:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time) Yemen
Sometime before Noon (4:00 AM EST) on December 5, 2016, the Saudi Arabian air force was busy in Yemen. It’s not clear which came first, but in fairly quick succession, Saudi warplanes attacked a boat carrying Pakistani sailors off the coast of Yemen’s Ta’izz province, a residential building housing families with children in Sa’ada province to the east, and dropped more bombs in the Baqim district to the north near the Saudi border. When the scream of the jet planes had faded in the distance, six dead sailors floated in the water of the Red Sea, with another six feared lost; in Sa’ada, a child lay dead, near her injured father and two brothers, and three people—a dead woman and two wounded children—lay on the ground near the Saudi border. According to the statisticians, that brought the number of dead civilians to at least 11,400, since a Saudi-led coalition began attacking Yemen in March, 2015. The coalition agreed to wage war in Yemen, ostensibly, to drive out Houthi rebels (a Shia-led religious-political movement) and return the former government to power. In a little more than a year, the coalition had failed to accomplish its stated goal, but it had wrought considerable change in Yemen.
Most horrendous of the coalition accomplishments was, as in the December 5 attack, the slaughter of innocent children and other civilians. In August of 2016, military leaders sent fighter jets to attack a village school in Sa’ada. That time, ten children died, twenty eight more were wounded. Heart-rending social media postings flashed out to the world.
Hisham Al-Omeisy @omeisy
Smallest coffins are heaviest. Graphic images of children killed in Saudi airstrike on school in Sa’ada this morning. Speechless. #Yemen
7:00 AM – 13 Aug 2016
Reporters on the ground painted devastating pictures with words: “Photographs from the scene showed rows of small bodies lined up on tarpaulin. Other pictures showed wounded and bloodied children being treated in hospital. [Medecin Sans Frontieres said] all of the victims were between eight and 15 years old.”42
No less devastating were the other statistics produced by the coalition attacks. The UN estimated (in October, 2016) that at least 38,280 Yemeni civilians had been injured in more than twenty-one months of fighting, in addition to the more than 11,000 killed. The violence had displaced more than three million people, and 18.8 million Yemenis—nearly 70 percent of the population—needed humanitarian or protection assistance. The UN estimated that 14 million people were hungry, seven million were in danger of starving to death. An additional 180,000 Yemenis had fled their homeland.43
The grim situation grew darker by the hour until families found themselves facing decisions no human being should ever be forced to make. “Parents are forced to decide between saving their sick children and preventing healthier ones from following the same perilous route. Cemeteries in this desperately poor and rugged stretch of villages [in rural Yemen] in the northwest contain the bodies of children who have recently died of hunger and preventable diseases. Most are buried in unmarked graves, their deaths unreported.”44 The situation was made worse by the lack of aid agencies operating in remote areas of Yemen and by a Saudi air and naval blockade that prevented both food and medicine from reaching those who so desperately needed it.
Repeated calls from relief organizations, including the UN and Medecins Sans Frontieres, for a cessation of fighting and humanitarian aid for the Yemenis drew little response from Saudi Arabia or its principle coalition partners, the United Kingdom and the United States. But coalition partners stood ready to support the “peace” effort, as co-aggressor nation, the United Arab Emirates, described the fighting. The US provided ongoing military materiel, including cluster bombs (banned by most of the world’s countries, but not the US), and Britain promised to support the “peacemaking” efforts with a £3 billion ($3.6 million) defense fund dedicated to supplying warships, aircraft and military personnel to the Persian Gulf region (more than England spends on any other part of the world) over at least the next ten years. When pressed by activists on the issue of human rights, on December 5, 2016, the day of the triple attacks, British Prime Minister Theresa May said, “I think the UK has always had the position, and we continue to have the position, that where there are issues raised about human rights, where there are concerns, we will rightly raise those.”45 May responded to activists on her way to a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Accounts of the meeting indicated she encouraged Gulf leaders to continue pursuing economic reforms, but voiced little challenge in the area of human rights. And war in Yemen and the hunger in Yemen raged on.
[If you want to know the citations for the information, you could always get a copy of the book :–) Map below