Yemen must not be allowed to become another Somalia

David Hearst writes: If there is one constant in a crisis-strewn world, it is that the humanitarian situation in Yemen just gets worse. This time last year, Yemen’s dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh was beating a long rearguard retreat against his eventual ouster. Oxfam had just issued a report saying that one third of Yemenis suffered from hunger and chronic malnutrition.

Today, Saleh is out and his relatives are in the process of being prised from the key positions he put them in. Shortly after al-Qaida’s attack on a rehearsal for a military parade on Monday, from which over 100 soldiers have now died, two of Saleh’s relatives were demoted from the central security forces and the interior ministry, including Saleh’s nephew Yahya. In April, it took 19 days of defiance, before Saleh’s half brother, General Mohammed Saleh al-Amar resigned his command of the Yemeni air forces. If anyone is in charge of Yemen these days its most likely to be the US ambassador who regularly heaps praise on the man they made president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

But whether Hadi turns out to be his own man or another Hamid Karzai makes little difference to the general suffering. This week, seven aid agences (Care, International Medical Corps, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Mercy Corps, Oxfam and Save the Children) said that 44% of the population – 10 million people – were going hungry. One quarter of them were in need of urgent emergency aid. Wherever you turn, another red light flashes. The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) said that nearly a million children under five were suffering from acute malnutrition and over one quarter of them could die.

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