On September 15, 2021, three people were killed during violent protests in different cities in Yemen. These protests are linked to widespread poverty and electricity outages since public services have collapsed within areas controlled by the Saudi-backed alliance. Two of the protestors died in Aden and Mukalla when tensions turned violent between the demonstrators and security forces, according to Reuters. During these altercations, security forces fired live ammunition to disperse hundreds of young protestors who gathered in the two cities. There were hundreds of protestors that were throwing stones that clashed with the security forces in Aden’s Khour Maksour, Crater, and Sheikh Othman districts. Demonstrators were blocking roads, setting fire to government buildings and burning cars on the streets. While one protestor was killed on Tuesday night in Aden, dozens were injured. There have been other protests reported in Shabwa and Abyan provinces in the same week.
The protests in Yemen are directly related to the unbearable living situations that citizens are experiencing. Reuters reported that Ahmed Saleh, 34, a protestor and government employee, said “We came out to protest after our life has become impossible. There is no electricity, no water, and salaries can’t buy us anything. We are not going to wait until we die.”
The Southern Transitional Council is fighting for independence in the south of the country. One of their spokesmen called for more protests on Wednesday against “the occupation” of the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. This was after Saudi Arabia brokered a power-sharing deal to focus its feuding allies on the battle against the Houthis.
The United Nations (U.N.) says that Yemen’s crisis is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. The head of the U.N. World Food Program is warning that 16 million people in Yemen are “marching towards starvation,” and that current food rations will be cut in October unless new funding arrives, as reported in NPR.
With the United Nations declaring this the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, it is extremely disheartening how little recognition Yemen has received. Each side of the conflict might continue to disagree, but there needs to be an end to the violence. The parties need to reconcile their differences, with international involvement, in order to find a solution. With the mediation of the United Nations, Yemen can see a brighter future. However, it is important to recognize that one of the bigger underlying issues isn’t the conflict, it is people starving. According to Henrietta Fore, head of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, over 11.3 million Yemeni children need humanitarian assistance to survive and nearly 400,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition are at imminent risk of death.
This power struggle between the Saudi-backed government and the United Arab Emirates-backed southern separatists has left South Yemen in a state of shock and distress. They are nominal allies under a Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-aligned Houthi group in the North.
Yemen has been struggling with conflict and the country has been crippled. Public services are destroyed, and there are frequent power outages which lead to the distribution of water, aid supplies, and medical services being compromised. The country is also suffering from unemployment and spiralling inflation that continues to impact the 29 million people that rely on humanitarian aid. Our world’s worst forgotten humanitarian crisis is only getting worse.
With the whole world full of people dealing with their own problems, issues can be swept under the rug when they don’t directly impact an individual. The whole world was put on pause when COVID-19 hit. However, even with COVID-19 becoming the new norm, there are still issues that are surfacing by the day. No matter how many issues exist, the people of Yemen are suffering. No matter how far away they are, they are just as human as you and me. The world needs to put its efforts into helping. These conflicts will continue unless they receive the right attention from international organizations. As explained by the World Food Program’s David Beasley, “We need this war to end, number one, and if donors are getting fatigued, well end the war.” He is constantly urging world leaders to put pressure on all parties to end the suffering of the Yemeni people.
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