Yemen: The world’s newest humanitarian catastrophe, and how Britain helped to create it

David Wearing writes: Britain has actively contributed to the creation a humanitarian disaster in Yemen, and potentially helped turn the Middle East’s poorest state into the new Syria. Not hyperbole or rhetoric; just a bald statement of fact. I’ll leave it to others to try to explain the near total silence on this issue throughout the British media and across the political spectrum. For now, it will suffice simply to tell the story.

This week the UN declared its highest level of humanitarian emergency in Yemen, with more than 21.1 million people (over 80 per cent of the population) in need of aid, 9.4 million with little or no access to water, and 13 million facing “a food security crisis” as the country teeters on the brink of famine. A fortnight ago the World Health Organisation confirmed an outbreak of potentially lethal dengue fever as a result of the general collapse of the state, civilian infrastructure and health services, with over 3,000 cases recorded since March. The total of internally displaced people has now reached a million, with a quarter of a million made refugees.

Aid agencies have placed the blame primarily on a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, including the likes of Qatar, the UAE and Egypt, and backed by the US and UK, whose air campaign and naval blockade have dramatically worsened the situation in an already desperately impoverished country. The assault began in late March, when the Saudis and their allies waded into a civil conflict on the side of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against the northern Houthi rebel movement. It is a case of the wealthiest Arab states joining forces to bomb and starve the poorest, with the assistance of two of the world’s richest and most powerful countries. [Continue reading…]

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