16 Sep WHAT IS HAPPENING IN YEMEN?
The only reference of Yemen that you may remember is from that one Friends episode when Chandler was trying to run away from Janice.
Why is that?
According to UNICEF, about 80 percent of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance. You may be wondering, why does Yemen never show up on the news? Why aren’t other countries helping out? Well unfortunately, until recently, most of us were unaware of the on-going political and humanitarian struggles Yemen has been facing for nearly a decade. I understand that there are many questions as to why and how Yemen is in the state that it is in right now, and I am here to explain everything to you.
Yemen was split into North Yemen and South Yemen in 1990 because of the differences in beliefs of how the country should be run, which caused a lot of conflict between the two. Even after they joined forces, the unrest did not stop.
The conflict grew in complexity. The Houthi rebellion, anti-government founded by the Houthi tribe and backed by Iran, is a military rebellion against the Yemini military. Originally led by Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, the group emerged as a resistance against then-president Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Houthi rebels still control a large portion of Yemen. They criticized Saleh for being backed by Saudi Arabia and The United States.
Ceaseless conflict between the government and anti-government (the Houthi rebels) led to the President to resign in 2011, which led his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, to take over. The Houthi rebels didn’t like him or his government, so they started to take over certain areas of the government.
Likewise, many citizens did not like the current president, so they began to support the Houthi rebels. President Hadi struggled to deal with various problems including military attacks, corruption, and food insecurity. The fighting began in 2014 when the Houthi Shia Muslim rebels were able to take advantage of the President’s weaknesses and took over the capital city, Sanaa, including neighbouring areas.
In 2015, President Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia. Afterwards, Saudi Arabia sent air strikes to the Houthis (which had the support of the US, UK, and France). This is already a problem because Saudi Arabia and Iran hate each other but Yemen is getting help from Iran and Saudi Arabia simultaneously. Saudi Arabia and eight other Sunni majority Arab countries, known as the ‘coalition,’ joined forces in support of the Yemeni government.
The coalition wanted to push the Houthi rebels out of government. Saudi Arabia’s concern was the fear that the Houthi’s would give their rival, Iran, power. Simultaneously, because President Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia and moved the capital city of Yemen to Aden (as the temporary capital city), he still hasn’t been able to return back to Sanaa because of its Houthi-led Northern governorates.
Complicated, right? There’s still more.
Many believed the civil war wouldn’t last long but President Hadi has yet to reclaim Sanaa. Many countries, including the UK, are pressuring Saudi Arabia to agree to pause their conflict with Yemen to get the Houthi rebels out of power. However, the UK has been selling weapons to Saudi Arabia which, as you can imagine, encourages the fighting.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are the key external players in the conflict in Yemen, but they aren’t the only countries that have contributed to the situation. Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have also contributed to the conflict. Iran supports the Houthis, Saudi Arabia supports the Yemeni government, Qatar supports Islah (a political organization that attempts to find reform in all aspects of life) and the UAE supports the STC (Yemen’s Southern Transition Council) and the Joint Forces.
Additionally, Houthis have weaponized aid in Houthi held territories and The UAE and Saudi Arabia are their largest donors. Saudi Arabia claims that Iran is supporting the Houthis with weapons, but Iran denies this charge. I can’t fathom living in Yemen during all of this.
Since April 2020, The UN has been encouraging both sides to put down their weapons and ceasefire. The situation is difficult because Yemen has become a home for extreme groups such as Al-Qaeda and others due to all the fighting and unrest. Not to mention, Yemen is considered one of the poorest Arab countries. More than 100,000 people have died in the last five years. Oh, and it’s suffering from the largest cholera outbreak.
The conflict is very complex, it is difficult to track, there is misinformation about the war and the state of the country is deteriorating rapidly so the only thing we can do is provide Yemeni people with support. Yemen is also overlooked because the world is usually desensitized from what happens in the Middle East because there is constant conflict in this part of the world. The lack of data about the conflict and lack of access to certain parts of the country makes it even more challenging to help Yemen. Millions are on the “we are all living through such an unprecedented time and this year has been difficult for many of us” mindset but at the end of the day, a lot of us are simply blessed and privileged to having access to water, a place to sleep every night, food, and many other luxuries that we take for granted.
Below I have listed some resources to learn more about the situation in Yemen and ways we can help.
Inside Yemen – FRONTLINE PBS
Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj – Netflix
Prints for Yemen- 14 Yemeni female artists selling their artwork to support Yemen
Comfort Aid International– food aid, infant milk powder, helping refugees, orphan support, cholera vaccinations, and covid-19 support.
World Without Barriers– baby milk, hospital milk, hospital aid, and food baskets to families.
Angels for COVID-Relief Yemen- cholera help, medical aid, food aid for the needy and help families sustain themselves in this difficult time.
Welfare Aid International– food aid, orphan care, medical aid to various clinics and hospitals, supporting educational initiatives
Lady Fatemah Charitable Trust– food aid, water purification adoption or widowed and orphaned families, supply of PPE suits and medical equipment to frontline workers in hospitals and microfinance initiatives through farming.
Yemini community in Canada– distribution of food baskets, clothing for children, shelter for disabled people, educational aid, rent payments, funding of central kitchens in poor neighborhoods.
Unicef Yemen– on Yemen ground to save children’s lives, provides support and helps them cope with the impact of the conflict, and helps them recover and resume their childhoods.
Header Image: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/old-city-of-sanaa-corporate-art-task-force.html