This interview with Nadine Drummond from Save the Children is essential reading for understanding the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the effect that the assault on Hodeidah will have on the civilian population:
Hundreds and thousands will suffer from famine. The closure of the port of Hodeida or any delay of imports of food or medicine into the country will absolutely devastate the children of Hodeida. Last year, 50,000 children died of preventable diseases such as cholera or measles and that was even before the escalation on Hodeida. There is little hope for the children in Yemen unless there is an end to the conflict.
It also takes the peace process off the table. The UN envoy, Martin Griffiths, was supposed to present a security framework earlier this month, but I don’t see that happening now.
The only way to alleviate Yemen’s humanitarian crisis is to halt the fighting and lift the coalition blockade. The assault on Hodeidah makes the first practically impossible by killing off any chance for negotiations for the foreseeable future, and it ensures that the effects of the blockade will be made even worse for millions and millions of innocent Yemenis. The coalition governments are pressing ahead with this attack knowing full well the effect it will have on the civilian population. As usual, coalition governments are showing flagrant disregard for the lives of civilians, and they keep getting away with this because the U.S. and other Western governments support their war and shield them from international scrutiny and censure. Attacking Hodeidah will make an already cruel and atrocious war that much worse, and it is happening with the Trump administration’s acceptance and assistance.
The port of Hodeidah was targeted early in the war by the Saudi coalition bombing campaign, which destroyed the cranes needed to offload goods from ships. That severely limited the amount of cargo that could be offloaded and created additional delays in bringing in basic necessities. The cranes that have replaced them are very inadequate:
Hodeidah was bombed in August 2015, and has been operating at reduced capacity ever since. Two much-trumpeted USAID-funded mobile cranes arrived at the port at the start of this year, but, according to Suze van Meegen, protection and advocacy advisor for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Yemen, they haven’t made much of a difference.
“The damaged cranes were giant, permanently-installed pieces of machinery, capable of offloading up to 30 containers each per hour; their substitutes are extendable apparatus attached to the sort of tiny, portable trucks one might expect to see at a suburban construction site,” van Meegen told IRIN.
The Saudi coalition has consistently been impeding the delivery of goods and aid into Yemen, destroying critical infrastructure, and endangering the lives of civilians. The U.S. should be condemning their actions in the strongest terms and halting all assistance and arms sales until the coalition ends their war on Yemen, but instead the Trump administration offers unconditional support.