Saudi-UAE Alliance Announces To Open Humanitarian Corridors Between Rebel-Held Areas In Yemen

A Saudi-UAE coalition has plans to open humanitarian corridors in Yemen, amidst the ongoing conflict. The corridors will be situated between the two rebel strongholds of the Red Sea city of Hodeida and the capital Sanaa and will come into existence through coordination with the UN. This action took place following pressure from the UN to provide humanitarian relief to the civilians caught up in the ongoing war within Yemen. According to The Japan Times, the alliance aims to open three corridors between the cities, between the times of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. each day, for the transportation of humanitarian aid.

The spokesman for the military alliance, Turki Al Malaki, stated that “the coalition is working with [UN humanitarian agency] OCHA to establish safe humanitarian corridors to help the delivery of aid,” in response to what has been described by Al Jazeera as the “world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis.” Furthermore, Save the Children have warned that without humanitarian aid, and any disruption to the flows of aid, this would “cause starvation on an unprecedented scale.” Many high-profile individuals and experts on the conflict within Yemen believe that a famine is imminent, and therefore action taken regarding humanitarian assistance and relief cannot come soon enough for Yemen’s civilians. UN humanitarian affairs chief, Mark Lowcock, stated that “when famine strikes it will be too late,” representing the desperation of the situation for the civilians of Yemen, and the relief on the part of the UN and other humanitarian organizations in the decision of the Saudi-UAE alliance to implement humanitarian corridors.

The conflict in Yemen has resulted in many negative and varied implications for the civilians. Therefore, introducing humanitarian corridors to provide aid, relief, and health care for the 22 million people who are dependent on humanitarian assistance and protection, is long over-due. The Yemeni people have continued to bear the brunt of the ongoing conflict and hostility within the nation, resulting in a desperate situation in which 60% of the population is food insecure, and according to UN estimations, approximately 17,000 civilian casualties. To this degree, the humanitarian corridors set up by the Saudi-UAE alliance are a necessary action taken in a desperate situation, somewhat recognizing the plight of Yemeni civilians and striving to lessen the suffering. However, this does not defer from the fact that humanitarian corridors do not present a peaceful resolution to end the conflict in Yemen altogether, and do just that, lessen the suffering.

The somewhat passive response from the Saudi-UAE alliance with regard to civilian suffering and the on-going conflict surfaces from the vested interest that the coalition has within the conflict. Yemen’s civil war started in 2014 when the Houthis advanced south from Saada to capture large parts of northern Yemen, including the capital of Sanaa. This conflict then escalated in 2015, when Saudi Arabia and the UAE led a coalition, launching air raids on the Houthi rebels as a method to reinstate the government of President Abu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. According to the UN, at least 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict since the Saudi-UAE coalition intervened, escalating the war to a scale which is perhaps would not have reached without this intervention. To this note, the humanitarian response of the Saudi-UAE coalition is not enough to offset the disaster facing the entire country.

While the humanitarian corridors are a necessary response to the impact felt by Yemeni’s within a conflict-ridden country, they are not a step towards ensuring peace within the nation. The UN-affiliated humanitarian response provides desperately required relief and enables aid organizations to overcome past obstacles in helping Yemenis in need of food and medicine. However, this is overshadowed by the contribution of the Saudi-UAE alliance to the suffering of Yemenis, through the bombing of crucial infrastructure, from hospital and schools to water infrastructure. Therefore, perhaps the best course of action of the Saudi-UAE alliance would be to end their military interventions entirely and approach peaceful resolutions, alongside humanitarian relief for the civilians of Yemen.