Last Friday, United Nations Human Rights officials expressed alarm at the rise in civilian casualties in Yemen in the past month. Since the collapse of peace talks at the beginning of August, at least 329 civilians have been killed and at least 426 injured. The majority of these casualties are as a result of continuing coalition airstrikes that are being led by Saudi Arabia. In August, the United Nations documented at least 41 attacks on civilian facilities, like schools, by both the rebel forces and the coalition and these attacks have killed at least 180 people. Last month, Doctors Without Borders also announced that due to airstrikes against hospitals, they were pulling staff members out of several hospitals across the country.
Apart from the rising number of civilians being injured or killed by this conflict, there is a significant humanitarian crisis occurring. The United Nations has also voiced concern regarding the effects of a blockade of the city Taiz which has resulted in residents facing food and water shortages. Furthermore, there are widespread shortages across the country and these shortages are having a tragic effect on children. According to international aid organisations, nearly 1.5 million children are acutely malnourished. Save the Children has estimated that a third of all children under five fall into this category, with a significant portion of these children suffering from severe malnutrition. The conflict has also pushed the country towards famine, with more and more children becoming malnourished.
This civil war started in February last year after Shiite rebels forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee Sanaa. Since then the rebels have clashed with Hadi and his supporters within the country. Saudi Araba has led the international coalition fighting the rebels, engaging in indiscriminate airstrikes which have claimed thousands of civilians’ lives. Yemen imports 90% of its food and prior to the conflict, it has had one of the highest malnutrition rates, something that has only become worst since Saudi Arabia implemented a blockade when the conflict started. The cost of food has increased substantially due to these shortages, making it impossible for the country’s poor to get enough food.
The situation in Yemen is deteriorating quickly. It is clear that something needs to be done in order to prevent further deaths. At this point, the airstrikes are not producing any positive results. Instead, these airstrikes are causing more harm to a population which has faced an extraordinary amount of negative consequences from the conflict. A country that was already facing significant issues regarding the availability of food is now facing a widespread famine that is already affecting the most vulnerable members of the country. If this humanitarian crisis is to be solved, then it is essential that the blockade is stopped so that these individuals are able to have greater access to aid and food. The actors involved in the conflict should attempt to salvage the peace talks, so that a ceasefire is able to be implemented. This conflict is having a detrimental effect on the population and as such, it is essential that the actors involved consider another way to bring peace to the country.
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