In an effort to turn the spotlight on the ongoing crisis in Yemen, four rights group and a media organization held a side event on 21 October entitled, “Bombs, Starvation and War: The Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen.” Chaired by BBC producer Nada Tawfik, the event started off by showing a short film entitled, “Starving Yemen,” highlighting not only the brutality of the war which broke out in 2015, but the devastating humanitarian crisis which is often falling under the radar.
The movie followed one of the few healthcare workers remaining in the country, and showed that the casualties of war are not only those injured or killed by the direct violence. As food and basic healthcare have become scarce amid the conflict and a blockade, children have been increasingly dying of malnutrition and starvation.
Mr. Noah Gottschalk Senior Advisor for Oxfam said war has been destroying people’s lives and prospects and not just killing and injuring people. So far many thousands of children have died in malnutrition related illnesses in Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East. Of the 27 million people who live in Yemen, 21.2 million, some 80% of the population are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Nawal al-Maghafi, who reported and directed the movie said that the little international attention given to the situation in Yemen has been directed to politics, with less regard to the civilian population who has been bearing the brunt of the hardships. Yemen’s Hudaida port, its lifeline, is now disabled amid aerial and naval blockade. Prior to the war, 90 % of Yemen’s food supplies were imported.
Ms. Paola Emerson, Chief Middle East and North Africa Section of UN Office for the Coordination and Humanitarian Affairs said that as a result of the ongoing violence, aid agencies have been facing extreme difficulties and challenges in reaching people. Many people especially those who live in remote areas are not being reached at all, resulting in breakouts of famine and cases of cholera. Ms. Emerson said that the health care system is already over stretched and is increasingly unable to provide assistance.
Ms. Priyanka Motaparthy, Senior Emergencies Researcher at Human Rights Watch said that according to their research, there have been 16 cluster munitions attacks in Yemen. Cluster munitions, she explained are inherently indiscriminate, but they have been used throughout Yemen, in or near heavily populated areas. The danger is that children can and have picked up the remnants of cluster munitions, even days or months after they were used, causing them grave injures and even death.
Mr. Robert Perkins, Researcher in the ATT Monitor Project said that despite the appalling human suffering taking place in Yemen as well as serious violations of humanitarian and international law, there doesn’t appear to be any halting of the arms transfer to States and rebel groups involved in the conflict.
Drafted by Jihan Abdalla