Credit: Hugh Macleod / IRIN/Creative Commons
Save the Children warns that the closure of the Hodeidah port would add another million children to the the current number of 5 million at risk of famine:
British charity Save the Children has warned that 5 million children are at risk of famine in Yemen as the Saudi-led coalition carries out a major offensive on a strategic port in the country.
On Tuesday, the coalition launched a campaign to recapture the rebel Houthi-held port of Hodeidah, according to state media in the United Arab Emirates, a partner in the coalition.
Save the Children has said that damage to the port or its temporary closure would increase food and fuel costs, putting 1 million more children at risk of famine.
The number of Yemenis at risk of dying from starvation is staggering, but for some reason the severity of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen still fails to register in the rest of the world. The 5 million children that are already at risk of famine are suffering because of a man-made crisis for which the Saudi coalition and its Western patrons, including our government, are largely responsible. Another million children could be put at risk because of an offensive that our government supports. These millions of lives are at risk because the U.S. offers effectively unconditional support to the Saudi coalition and the Saudi coalition acts with callous disregard for the civilian population. There does not have to be a massive famine that devours an entire generation of Yemeni children, but unless there is a cease-fire and an end to the blockade there will be.
The Hodeidah offensive obviously threatens the civilian population in and around the city, but beyond that it endangers the lives of millions more throughout the country that depend on the port for their supply of food and fuel. The blockade already impedes delivery of goods and drives up prices beyond what most Yemenis can afford. Further interruptions could be fatal to huge numbers of them:
“Millions of children don’t know when or if their next meal will come. In one hospital I visited in north Yemen, the babies were too weak to cry, their bodies exhausted by hunger. This could be any hospital in Yemen,” Thorning-Schmidt said.
“What happens in Hodeidah has a direct impact on children and families right across Yemen. Even the smallest disruption to food, fuel and aid supplies through its vital port could mean death for hundreds of thousands of malnourished children unable to get the food they need to stay alive,” she said.
The U.S. had previously opposed launching an offensive on Hodeidah because some officials in our government understood the disastrous consequences it could have for the civilian population. Unfortunately, Trump chose to ignore these concerns and supported the attack on Hodeidah instead. It is still within our government’s power to use its leverage with the Saudis and Emiratis to halt this offensive, establish a cease-fire, and allow normal commercial shipping and humanitarian aid to flow into the country, but the administration refuses to do any of this. Congress has a chance to end at least some of the causes of this disaster. William Hartung appeals to Congress to do just that:
Rarely does Congress have an opportunity make a difference in the lives of millions of people. This is one such chance, and the time to act is now.