Access to and delivery of critical food aid in war-torn Yemen is under threat, as recent attacks have deliberately targeted the World Food Programme run warehouse holding facilities and delivery vehicles. Whilst the precise identity of the assailants responsible for the ambush remains unresolved. What is clear is that should such moves persist, the far-reaching implications for the civilian population in dire need for humanitarian assistance will prove costly. Indeed, in highlighting the finding and warnings issued by the organization Save The Children, Aljazeera online ‘reported that hunger is being utilized as a weapon in some of the world’s worst conflicts.’ Although adjudicating whether the recent attacks was actually effectuated as a weapon of war is not the aim here, the point to be stressed is that such actions have not only sabotaged the aid efforts but have ultimately contributed to the greater destabilization of regional peace and security in the region.
Whilst the UN has strongly condemned the recent attacks, the body has also remained firm and strong in its stance that such acts will not deter the delivery of aid to people of Yemen. On this note, a ‘spokesperson for the UN asserted that as around eight million people are close to famine, we cannot afford any activities that would disrupt our operations aiming to provide food and nutrition.’ Furthermore, in matters regarding the interception of foreign aid into the country ‘Amnesty International has accused Saudi-led forces, as they close in on Yemen’s vital port city of Hodeida, of possible war crimes over interference with the delivery of food, fuels, and aid. Whereas, the Houthi rebels, currently in control of Hodeida, of interfering with supplies once they enter the country, in more possible breaches of international law.’
The tenacity of the World Food Programme in continuing to deliver aid and assistance to the Yemeni people is indeed honourable, especially when confronted with deliberate efforts at sabotage- such as ‘ the attack on a world food programme warehouse in Hudayhad city which contained enough food to assistance 19,200 in need.’ It is also not merely wrong but gravely unjust that civilians are the ones to suffer the brunt of warfare. The unnecessary pain and suffering resulting from such tactics could be exacerbated severely, should the Hodeida fall, the flow on impacts of this could not only be catastrophic but unimaginable. On this point, as reported by ABC News Online, ‘Oxfam’s Yemen director, Muhsin Siddiquey asserted that “The Yemeni population largely depends on the port of Hodeida so if it is not functional then that will be a huge catastrophe if full fighting erupts in Hodeida and the ports stop functioning.”’ Thus in firmly advocating for the aim of peace and non-violence, it is hoped that both sides will eschew from sabotaging the delivery of aid and assistance to the Yemeni people.
For the purpose of elucidating the plight of civilians, the prevalence of corruption appears to also have impeded access and delivery of aid as ‘as Houthi de facto government officials have been reported to demand bribes for aid projects to go ahead and rebel fighters manning checkpoints engaging in extortion by demanding food vouchers or other material as a “tool.”’
Ultimately, it is crucial that both warring sides understand and acknowledge that ‘under the statue of the International Criminal Court, intentionally starving civilians is a war crime and that this understanding results in the cessation of aid sabotage.’ The Yemeni war is between the Houthi rebel forces and the Assad government, as such the warfare ought not to extend to the destruction of civilian livelihood as is happening. Should the current trend continue and intensify it is not unreasonable to expect that peace and security of the region will be beyond destabilized. It is thus important that prudent decision is made by both sides, recognizant of protecting the civilian population, as rebuilding a nation already wrecked by the brutality of war will prove extremely difficult. The populous thus ought to be empowered and protected in all ways possible so as to ensure that the return back to peace may actually in the future eventuate.
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