Beginning in 2015, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Gulf states, with the support of the United States, have been conducting a military campaign in Yemen aimed at ousting the Houthi faction.
Indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets, including hospitals, schools, and water treatment plants, as well as the blockading of Yemeni ports– committed largely with U.S. weapons and logistical support – have resulted in what the U.N. describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Four out of five Yemenis now depend on humanitarian assistance to survive and over 140,000 children have died as a result of the conflict.
The ongoing blockade and thousands of gruesome air strikes have left the country’s population vulnerable and its vital infrastructures in ruin. The independent Yemeni organization Mwatana for Human Rights reported that 35 coalition air raids on 32 health facilities occurred between 2015 and 2018. Despite Congress passing legislation to end U.S. military support and block arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United States continues to provide intelligence sharing and logistical support for coalition airstrikes and billions of dollars in weapons sales.
Congress must pass legislation to end military support and weapons sales, endorse diplomacy and restore humanitarian aid funding, and use robust diplomacy to bring the war to an end.
The situation in Yemen has grown increasingly dire with the spread of COVID-19. Yemen is one of the most vulnerable countries to the coronavirus, given that nearly 80 percent of Yemenis are considered immunosuppressed. Yemenis who do contract the virus have limited access to the country’s health care facilities, since 50 percent have been destroyed or shut down.
The situation has been compounded by the administration’s ongoing USAID funding suspension, which is in addition to a 50 percent cut in aid to most of the country by the World Food Program, the reduction or closing of three quarters of all major U.N. aid programs, and a rollback of World Health Organization programming. As Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, has previously said, “Yemen needs support now — literally, right now. There are shortages of absolutely everything that’s needed to treat the people who are likely to become ill.”
FCNL’s work in Yemen is far from over, and we continue to seek federal policies and practices that avoid violence and embrace peace. Congress must pass legislation to end military support and weapons sales, endorse diplomacy and restore humanitarian aid funding, and use robust diplomacy to pressure the Saudi-led coalition into bringing the war to an end.
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