A person enduring starvation does not sense thirst, making them dehydrated. Muscles become shriveled to the bone, and movements become painful due to muscle atrophy. The skin becomes cracked, as the body slowly but surely reaches its end.
The outcome of a civil war ultimately ends with one party losing previously claimed territory. Bloodshed is an unfortunate byproduct of war, and with today’s automated weaponry, civilian casualties are higher than ever before.
Starvation, bloodshed, and death are just part of the problem in Yemen. With a war that has been ongoing since the early 2000s, why isn’t there much news coverage? More importantly: What can we do to help those in need?
Dating back to the beginning, Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East, with over twenty-eight million civilians. While there has always been tension between Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government over territory and rule, a historic turning point in Yemen’s history came after the 2010 Arab Spring.
The Arab Spring consisted of multiple middle eastern countries uprising against government officials and their oppressive regimes. The civilians of Yemen were no different. The uprising in Yemen was so powerful, the then president – Ali Abdullah Saleh – was forced to step down after thirty-three years in power.
Houthi rebels reside mainly in northern Yemen, as they are rejected by government officials. The Houthis are Zaydi Shiites, which is a minority faction of Islam. Although largely different from the Shiite branch of Islam, Zaydi Shiites took action post eviction of president Saleh.
After president Saleh left office, vice president Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi took over. The Houthi rebels were skeptical of his power. In 2014, former president Saleh switched sides, and fought against the Yemeni Government. Loyalists to Saleh also switched side, making the rebels a much larger force to be reckoned with.
Saleh eventually attempted to switch sides again, but was ultimately killed days later by an attack in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. After his death, the Houthis gained control of the capital, and the two groups have been in battle since.
With the main port in Yemen for incoming living necessities being destroyed, civilians have little to no food, water, medicine, and hygiene supplies.
The war in Yemen affects civilians hard. Former CIA Unit Chief Scott Stern mentions that of the thirty-million Yemenis, twenty-two million are in need of humanitarian assistance, such as food, water, and shelter.
An estimated fifty-thousand civilians have died as a result of famine. An approximate amount of eighty-five thousand children have died of starvation, or disease that could have been treated.
With all that is going on, how can we the people of Chicago get involved in helping the people of Yemen?
A Pious Projects branch located in Chicago IL, has gotten involved by making food baskets for Yemen. Amnah Mohammed, a member of the organization was a part of this campaign. “The baskets consisted of milk, flour, dates, oil and more.”
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund- UNICEF- sends medical supplies to Yemen to help combat preventable diseases.
Tye Turner, a UNICEF representative provided “There have been a number of disease outbreaks in Yemen- and we have been sending medical supplies. When people don’t have food, they are more prone to get sick.”
UNICEF also distributes food packages with peanut butter that consists of five-hundred calories, that costs just over fifty cents per-package.
The people of Chicago may get involved through local organizations, creating necessity packages, and simply being vocal by educating themselves as much as possible on the catastrophe.
With poverty, famine, and death, Yemen is in need of immediate assistance, as they are undergoing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in history.
By Yasmeen Sheikah