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Crisis in Yemen and the Deafening silence

Seventeen months back the Saudi led coalition started bombing Yemen and the war doesn’t seem to end. The bombing campaign has taken a toll on Yemenis, destroying much of the country’s civilian as well as military infrastructure causing a major humanitarian crises.

Saudi Aggression

On 25 March 2015 Saudi started its aerial campaign in Yemen on behalf of deposed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to stop the advance of “Ansarullah” forces. The Saudi-led coalition has not been able to achieve any of the declared objectives so far. The “Ansarullah” aided by Yemeni Army and forces of Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh now controls large territories in Yemen including capital Sana’a.

On January 5, 2016, Saudi Arabia bombed the Noor Center for Care and Rehabilitation of the blind.

On 5 January 2016, Saudi Arabia bombed the Noor Center for Care and Rehabilitation of the blind. Source

The war in Yemen has become a catastrophe with a growing humanitarian crisis, threat to regional security, maritime borders and mushrooming terror groups. The conflict has become dirtier with the emergence of Islamic State and AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula).

War Crimes and Arms Trade

Saudi led coalition has been accused of committing war crimes by unlawfully targeting Homes, schools, and hospitals, and using internationally banned weapons against Yemeni civilians. Amnesty and other human rights organizations have presented compelling evidence of war crimes. Saudis denied these allegations saying “only military targets are hit by airstrikes.” Saudi Arabia is using its position on the U.N. Human Rights Council “to effectively stop investigations of war crimes perpetrated by its forces.”

Despite this, the international community hasn’t done much to stop Saudis from their devastating air campaign. And still, Britain, the United States, and France continue to sell arms to Saudi-led coalition without any concern of abuses committed by them.

uk-law-makers-protest-against-arms-trade

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) protests against arms trade with Saudi Arabia. (Image: flickr)

Since November 2013, the U.S. Defense Department has authorized more than $35.7 billion in major arms deals to Saudi Arabia. This includes the announcement of a $1.29 billion U.S. arms sale to Saudi Arabia in November 2015 that will supply Riyadh with 18,440 bombs and 1,500 warheads. Recently US announced plans to sell weapons worth $1.15 billion to Saudi Arabia.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has overseen the sale of more than $9 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, including nearly $4 billion since air strikes on Yemen began, according to the Campaign Against Arms Trade, a London-based NGO.

Growing Humanitarian Crisis

After seventeen months of airstrikes 10,000 people have been killed, 16000 wounded and 2.4 millions internally displaced as per Sheba Rights(a coalition of Yemeni NGOs and partners working on the ground) with no proper access to health services, clean water and food. The Saudi imposed blockade has worsened the situation with some 20 million people – 80 percent of the population – in dire need of humanitarian aid, experiencing food, power and medicine shortages in Yemen. These numbers suggest that Yemen, a country of 24 million people, is facing one of the worst humanitarian crises.

The conflict has taken a devastating toll, particularly on the children. “Nearly 8 children are being killed or maimed every day in Yemen’s deadly conflict,” UNICEF said in a report titled “Yemen: Childhood Under Threat”.

A Yemeni child lies on hospital bed after she was injured in a Saudi Airstrike that targeted a market in Sana’a killing 10 people including 3 children and wounding dozens of others.

A Yemeni child lies on hospital bed after she was injured in a Saudi Airstrike that targeted a market in Sana’a killing 10 people including 3 children and wounding dozens of others.

Deafening Silence

What is shocking is the silence of Western Nations who are vocal about human rights violations in other countries, yet indifferent to the Yemen conflict by exerting pressure on Saudi and using diplomatic channels– lucrative arms deals are presented to them to continue the devastating bombing campaign. Nothing concrete is being done to solve the conflict, there is a peace process going on but chances of solution are very low as the coalition continues its attack.

Despite these crimes Saudi Arabia sits on UN Human Rights Council chair, which it has used to block resolutions and human rights investigations. Last year Saudi Arabia was removed from a UN list of countries/militias that kill children after Saudi threatened to stop funding UN programmes.

The silence is not just on part of UN, Wests but Muslims too, when Israel attacked Gaza Muslim world condemned it with all its might from twitter campaign to demonstration and boycott, but in case of Yemeni Muslims, hardly was there any march or protest in a show of solidarity.

Indonesian Muslims staging a rally against Israeli attacks on the Palestinian territories outside the US embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 25, 2014.

Indonesian Muslims staging a rally against Israeli attacks on the Palestinian territories outside the US embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, 25 July 2014.

It’s high time the international community especially Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and BRICS should stand up and use all diplomatic means to put an end to this bloody conflict, sufferings and misery before Humanity hangs its head in shame.

References: Sheba, MONA, UNICEFCampaign Against Arms Trade. Feature Image source
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