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Yemen's Humanitarian Crisis Exacerbated By War

Over the past three decades Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, has suffered from chronic underdevelopment and a socio-economic crisis. Over 60 per cent of Yemen's total population (25 million) are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, with children and women mostly affected.

The precarious humanitarian situation was exacerbated further in the four years of political instability following the revolution in 2011, which ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Long before the war broke out on March 25, the United Nations and International organisations have been warning of the looming humanitarian crisis.

The dire humanitarian situation worsened with the conflict between ousted President Saleh-backed Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition backed by the US, Gulf states, Egypt and Turkey. While the coalition airstrikes mainly targeted military camps and weapon depots (some of which are in residential areas), it also targeted airports in Sana'a, Aden, Hodeida and Sada'a.

On Monday, Al Marzaq camp, an Internally Displaced People's (IDP) camp, was reportedly struck by the Saudi led coalition strikes, killing at least 40 internal refugees and injuring 200. Yemen's UN Humanitarian coordinator Johannes Van Der Klaauw deplored the attack in a statement and called on all parties to respect International Humanitarian Law. According to UNICEF, at least 62 children have been killed and 30 injured during fighting in Yemen over the past week.

Meanwhile, Saleh-backed troops and Houthi militias have been advancing in Southern Yemen, brutally attacking civilians and aggressively bombarding residential buildings. Southern cities have been ravaged for weeks, which has only worsened the humanitarian situation. Doctors without Borders/Medecins San Frontieres (MSF) reported receiving more than 550 patients since March 19, as a result of clashes in Aden, Lahj, and other areas in the south. On March 26 alone, 111 patients arrived at the hospital.

Hussain Al-Yafi and Yemen Updates following the situation in Southern Yemen tweeted:

Amnesty International in a statement accused the coalition of turning a blind eye to civilian deaths and suffering.

After several days of often intense bombardment in several areas across Yemen, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the Saudi Arabian-led coalition is turning a blind eye to civilian deaths and suffering caused by its military intervention

Under International Humanitarian Law, it is forbidden to launch attacks that might lead to incidental losses among civilians or cause the destruction of civilian objects that would be disproportionate to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.

Amid the no-fly zone imposed on Yemen by the Arab coalition, international organizations called for the urgent removal of obstacles to enable them to deliver medical supplies and trained health personnel urgently needed in Yemen.

Due to the no-fly zone, many Yemenis have been stranded in countries across the world, which prompted Yemeni netizens such as Khaled al-Hammadi to launch the hashtag #Stranded_Yemenis.

Many people in Yemen don't have access to clean water, and are struggling to feed themselves and lack proper infrastructure, basic health care and education. Yemen's young generation have witnessed many wars in their short lives and are tired of its horrors and humanitarian toll. They launched a hashtag saying “enough” to war #KefayaWar to all sides of the conflict.

Ammar Al-Aulaqi addressed them all in a tweet:

Ruba Aleryani highlighted Yemen's difficult condition:

Other Yemeni activists and journalists highlighted the humanitarian plight and hardship Yemen is facing from this war.

Hisham Al-Omeisy added:

Yemen updates commented:

Amel Ahmed tweeted:

Some Arab and foreign journalists have been also voicing their concern.

Journalist Mohammed Jamjoom, formerly covering Yemen for CNN, tweeted his sadness:

Louisa Loveluck added:

Global Voices has covered Yemen's humanitarian crisis over the years:

Yet the humanitarian aspect of the war doesn't seem to matter to nor make headlines in mainstream media. IRIN warned that the humanitarian situation will only become severe due to the conflict.

In summary, the humanitarian crisis that international organisations have been warning about over the past years has just been exacerbated over the past week of war in Yemen and will continue to do so. The question now is, what will the world do about it and when?

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