01/18/2024, 19.37
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Aid organisations in Yemen warn of 'disastrous' consequences of military escalation

Some 26 international aid organisations helping civilians in Yemen issued an appeal. At least 21 million Yemenis are at risk of famine. The country has been sorely tried by the humanitarian crisis and is struggling to get back on its feet. Despite appeals, the US and the UK will continue to strike at the Houthis, who announced more attacks against shipping.


Dubai (AsiaNews) – Some 26 aid organisations active in Yemen have issued an appeal, especially for “civilians still reeling from crisis”, in which they call for military de-escalation, to avert even more "disastrous" consequences for a country that has hugely suffered in the past decade from an unforgiving war amid the indifference of the international community.

Recently, the Arab country has been trying to recover, albeit with difficulty, but the latest tensions in the Gulf and Houthi attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, followed by a harsh US and UK military response, have brought back it to the darkest hours of its civil war.

For the aid organisations that signed the appeal, Yemen’s humanitarian crisis remains one of the "largest" in the world, and conflict between the West and pro-Iranian militias “will only worsen the situation”, thus “hinder[ing] the ability of aid organisations to deliver critical services.”

For this reason, “We urge all actors to prioritize diplomatic channels over military options to de-escalate the crisis and safeguard the progress of peace efforts in Yemen” and so protect civilians and the infrastructure.

The appeal goes further, looking at the whole Middle East, citing the war in Gaza as a cause of new tensions and violence across the region. Therefore, it calls for an "immediate and sustained ceasefire in Gaza to save lives and avert further instability across the region.”

The conflict in Yemen began in 2014 as a civil war that escalated with the intervention, in March 2015, of Saudi Arabia at the head of an Arab coalition. Thus far, nearly 400,000 people have died since it started.

According to the United Nations, the war has caused the "world's worst humanitarian crisis", made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At least 21 million people (two thirds of the population) are on the brink of starvation and in need of food and assistance. Some 10,000 children have died and those who survive will suffer for decades.

More than three million Yemenis are internally displaced, most living in extreme poverty, enduring hunger, and viral outbreaks of various kinds, including cholera.

Any further escalation “is likely to make Yemen's recovery more difficult,” said Bishop Paolo Martinelli, apostolic vicar of southern Arabia, speaking to AsiaNews. In any case, the recovery “is necessarily slow".

“Further escalation could result in more organizations being forced to halt their operations in areas where there are ongoing hostilities,” reads the appeal by the 26 aid organisations. “Scarcity and increased costs of basic commodities, such as food and fuel, will only exacerbate the already dire economic crisis, increase reliance on aid and drive protection risks.”

Despite appeals, US and British military pressure on the Houthis is not likely to abate, with the two allies carrying out a fourth round of attacks last night and Houthis reiterating their readiness to continue attacks on merchant ships.

Houthi operations are ostensibly carried out in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza and the civilian victims caused by Israel’s war against Hamas.

Wading recently into the conflict, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, “the more United States and United Kingdom bomb Yemen, the less the Houthis have the desire to negotiate.”

This, in turn, will have inevitable repercussions on the civilian population.

The NGOs that signed the appeal include: ADRA Yemen, CARE, Caritas Poland, Humanity & Inclusion - Handicap International, International Rescue Committee, Islamic Relief, Norwegian Refugee Council, Relief International, Save the Children, and Vision Hope International.

“[O]ur ability to reach the most vulnerable populations is already being impacted by declining global funding cuts and suspensions in food aid," their statement reads.

“Political leaders must consider the dire humanitarian implications of military escalation, and refrain from actions that could result in renewed large-scale armed conflict in Yemen.  

In fact, “The recent escalation also underscores the risk of a wider regional and international confrontation that could undermine Yemen’s fragile peace process and longer-term recovery.”

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See also
More migrants drown off Yemen’s coast
11/08/2017 20:05
Yemen at a crossroads: the humanitarian emergency weighs more heavily than the war
11/05/2024 15:44
Saudis and Houthis in secret talks in Oman to end Yemen conflict
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Saudi-Iranian deal: Tehran takes first step, stops arms shipment to Yemen’s Houthis
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Half of Yemen’s population risk starvation, warns UN
04/12/2020 10:43


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