The catastrophe of Saudi Arabia’s Trump-backed intervention in Yemen

Nawal Al-Maghafi writes: In the main hospital in the Yemeni port city of Hudaydah this August, the malnutrition ward overflowed with patients. In the corridor, a man sat on the floor, with two children beside him whose ribs protruded under their pale skin. Inside the makeshift ward, every bed held two skeletal children. Saleha, a mother in her thirties, sat on the corner of a bed with her nine-year-old daughter, Fateena, on her lap. The child appeared thin and weak, and gasped for air. She urgently needed tests, according to doctors, but the hospital’s labs were overwhelmed. Saleha told me that the local hospital in her village was closed. It took the family three days of hitchhiking with strangers most of the way to reach the city, on the west coast of Yemen, and its hospital. “The war has really taken its toll on her,” Saleha told me, pointing to her daughter. “Now she just lays there until her body seizes again.” The staff of the government-run hospital said that they hadn’t been paid for months. “We are hungry, but we might as well come to work than starve to death at home,” one doctor told me. “We can’t go to war on the frontline but this is our way of fighting against the aggression, by saving people.”

On Thursday, the heads of three United Nations relief agencies called on a nine-nation military coalition led by Saudi Arabia to end a tightened blockade it imposed on Yemen after Houthi rebels fired a ballistic missile into Riyadh, the Saudi capital, last weekend. “Closure of much of the country’s air, sea and land ports is making an already catastrophic situation far worse,” a joint statement issued by the United Nations Children’s Fund, World Food Program, and World Health Organization, said. “The space and access we need to deliver humanitarian assistance is being choked off, threatening the lives of millions of vulnerable children and families.”

The U.N. officials said that more than twenty million people, including more than eleven million children, are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance; at least 14.8 million lack basic medical care, and a cholera outbreak has infected more than nine hundred thousand. Yemenis are caught in a nearly three-year conflict that began as a domestic power struggle and evolved into a brutal proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, killing more than ten thousand people and shuttering more than half of the country’s medical facilities. Saudi armed forces, backed by more than forty billion dollars in American arms shipments authorized by the Trump and Obama Administrations, have killed thousands of civilians in air strikes. They have also blockaded the country to varying degrees for two years and intermittently prevented journalists and human-rights researchers from flying into the country. [Continue reading…]

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