350 Vigil for Yemen photo: Felton Davis

By Talia Haveshush, age 9and Indykids Staff 

The United Nations says the war in Yemen is the world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster. The political divisions within Yemen are complex, but the conflict has essentially become a “proxy war” between Iran (who support the rebel Houthis in northern Yemen) and Saudi Arabia (who support the Yemeni government). Iran and Saudi Arabia are longtime enemies. Despite the politics at play, the biggest impact of the war in Yemen has been on civilians.

The war has gone on for nearly four years, with airstrikes and bombings leaving buildings in rubble and destroying clean water supplies. Hospitals in the country are in need of supplies like fuel and water to help civilians impacted by the crisis.

Because of the war, Yemenis are starving. According to the U.N. Human Rights Council, 17.8 million people don’t know where their next meal is coming from or if they will even eat that night, and 8.4 million are considered at risk of starvation.

The U.N. report also says that severe acute malnutrition is threatening the lives of almost 400,000 children under the age of 5.

Despite this war being fought thousands of miles away, the U.S. involvement in the Yemen war is key to it continuing or ending. Bruce Riedel, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former CIA analyst for Middle East affairs, said that “if the United States of America and the United Kingdom tonight told King Salman [of Saudi] that this war has to end, it would end tomorrow because the Royal Saudi Air Force cannot operate without American and British support.”

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the U.S.-Saudi Arabia alliance is built on decades of security cooperation and strong business ties dominated by U.S. interests in Saudi oil.

In December 2018, the U.S. Senate voted to withdraw military support for the war in Yemen. However, a U.S. withdrawal is still a long way off. The House of Representations would also have to pass the resolution, and then President Trump would have to sign it. Analysts say this is going to be a big challenge.

Glossary:

FamineExtreme scarcity of food.

Humanitarian – Concerned with or promoting the general welfare of humanity.

Alliance – Partnership

Malnutrition- Lack of proper nutrition and food