The citizens of Yemen now face a new threat, as though life there was not already harsh enough. Over 300,000 Yemeni already suffer from cholera (40% of whom are under the age of 15,) and the estimates show that up to 500,000 could face immediate starvation as a result, or many more if conditions deteriorate further.
Resources from food programs had to be shifted in order to provide the necessary vaccine doses to combat the problem and contain the spread of the disease. A record nearly one million doses was put aside for the people of Yemen, but, as has just been announced, critical shortcomings in infrastructure and security have put the project in jeopardy. The Saudi coalition, actively supported by the US and UK, has not only targeted and bombed a large number of hospitals, but has closed off nearly all of Yemen’s seaports and airports making delivery of critical medicine and food practically impossible. Power shortages have crippled water treatment plants and hospitals which only exacerbates the problem. Lack of refrigeration also puts certain medicines out of reach. Problems with the central bank have prevented healthcare workers from being paid, and they now depend upon humanitarian organizations for help, as well.
“Yemen is facing critical stoppages of hospitals and a lack of doctors and nurses. The health system has essentially collapsed, with an estimated 55 percent of facilities closed due to damage, destruction or lack of funds. Some 30,000 health care workers have not been paid in nearly a year and no funding has been provided to keep basic infrastructure such as hospitals, water pumping and sanitation stations operating.” -U.N. chief of aid, Stephen O’Brien
The initial shipment of 500,000 vaccine doses which is already in Djibouti would probably be re-routed to Africa instead of going to the war-torn country, according to WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier. The vaccine is an oral form and is intended as a preventative measure as it would do no good once the disease strikes. The vaccine only immunizes about 65% of those who take it as well, so the problem is likely to keep growing before it is eventually controlled.
“The speed of the spread of the disease is unprecedented,” Doctor Nevio Zagaria, the World Health Organization’s representative in Yemen said.
The situation is further complicated because deciding who gets the limited supply of essentials is likely to cause tensions between the warring parties.
The UN sought $2.1 billion to provide food to the millions people facing famine in Yemen but has received only a third of that amount. Up to eight million people are at risk of starvation. An appeal for $250 million in funding for cholera relief has only raised $47 million. Compared to the hundreds of billions which Saudi-Arabia has spent on weapons (from the US, the UK, Canada, and others,) it seems like a drop in the bucket. Saud has, ironically, pledged $3 billion to alleviate hunger in Yemen, but nobody expects much of it to go to the people of Yemen. The money will probably be spent on rebuilding infrastructure after the conclusion of hostilities and will certainly be given to British and American companies, instead.
The people know this somehow, and it leads to the mistrust which only amplifies the problem of disease. Many people in need of aid would simply refuse it claiming that the western powers who were there to help actually wanted to kill them all and their children, so they routinely refuse vaccines and medical attention. Trust, or lack of it, has become an issue which further increases the misery of those so affected. There is a great mistrust of the schizophrenic west who bomb them by day and seek to offer their help by night. Using illegal munitions like cluster-bombs and white phosphorus (as against the Palestinians) does not help the situation either.
The question raised is that with millions of Yemeni susceptible to cholera, will one million doses actually be enough? Originally, 3.4 million doses were requested, but due to simultaneous outbreaks in other countries such as Somalia, Malawi, Mozambique, and South Sudan, the stresses placed on supply, production, and transport infrastructure are overwhelming. Continued war, of course, leads to all these miseries and is the greatest continuous threat, and with continued weapons sales to the middle-east, the end of their suffering is nowhere in sight.
Let’s not forget that when there is no food, the only way for some of the older children to avoid starvation is to join the rebel forces. This is portrayed in the media as a recruitment of child-soldiers. The oppressed rebels are always to blame when dealing with regimes and empire.
Adding to all these horrible facts and adding to the prolonged misery of the people caught as prisoners in the war zone is that journalists have been barred from entering the country. This also serves a purpose, though; it means that all the atrocities committed against Yemeni civilians by western powers will go unnoticed. There will be nobody to report on the illegal weapons and munitions, nobody to recruit outside sympathy and financial assistance to those suffering, nobody to speak for the voiceless masses, and nobody to tell the story of an atrocious situation in horrific conditions under the oppressive impulse of invading forces.
American forces supply jets, bombs, illegal and inhuman munitions, training, and even refueling planes. British forces supply much of the same. Even Israel supplies pilots. Canada has provided transport trucks. Many other countries such as Qatar have contributed and are helping Saudi Arabia restore the deposed and oppressive government to power despite the will of the people. As the Americans said with Egypt’s Mubarak, “He might be a dictator, but he’s OUR dictator.”
So why does the west support this war? Why are we selling our weapons to these forces? Why are we involved in this ‘legitimate’ civil war (unlike the mercenary war in Syria,) if such a term can be used? Why are we involved, once again, in regime change halfway across the world? Why have we formed this coalition of the usual suspects? In a word: Iran. Iran (read: Hezbollah) backs the Huthi rebels. It is simply another proxy war, another reason to vilify our enemies, and once again, the people paying for it, living in misery, suffering through disease, starvation, death, and destruction, are innocent and helpless civilians.
Help shine a light any way you can. Use social media to do the job that the press either will not or cannot do, lobby your governments, donate to relief funds, crowdfund the purchase of BAE or Raytheon, do whatever it takes, do whatever you can. Us little guys should stick together against the forces of tyranny; we are their only defense and their very last hope.