Don’t Be Fooled by Saudi ‘Aid’ Efforts in Yemen

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

The International Rescue Committee dismisses the Saudi-led coalition’s “aid” plan for Yemen:

“The name in itself is misleading: it is neither comprehensive, nor particularly humanitarian,” said Amanda Catanzano, senior policy and advocacy director at the International Rescue Committee. “The Saudi-led coalition is offering to fund a response to address the impact of a crisis it helped to create. The acute crisis in Yemen needs more than what appears to be a logistical operations plan, with token gestures of humanitarian aid.”

As the IRC press release notes, the “aid” plan fails to do many of the things necessary for relieving the suffering of Yemen’s civilian population. First and most important, it fails to end the blockade that has done so much to create the disaster engulfing the country:

The severity of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen demands that all ports – including and especially Hodeidah and Saleef – remain permanently open. YCHO only extends the current 30-day window allowing access to Hodeidah for another 30 days, which makes little to no difference on the ground. If the Saudis were serious about addressing the humanitarian crisis, the most valuable step they could take would be to lift the blockade, permanently, which they and the international community should do without delay.

Of course, the Saudis and their allies are not serious about addressing the humanitarian crisis, because they caused it and have no interest in ending it. However, they want the rest of the world to think otherwise. Their “aid” plan was created to give the impression that they are doing something to remedy the catastrophe they have caused, but it simply isn’t true. This is why credulous reporting about Saudi “aid” efforts is so harmful to the cause of responding effectively to the humanitarian crisis.

The IRC press release concludes:

“A meaningful response to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis requires more access – not less. At best, this plan would shrink access and introduce new inefficiencies that would slow the response and keep aid from the neediest Yemenis, including the over 8 million on the brink of starvation,” said Catanzano. “At worst, it would dangerously politicize humanitarian aid by placing far too much control over the response in the hands of an active party to the conflict.”

The Saudi-led coalition continues its effort to starve Yemen into submission. It needs to be called out and condemned for that, and the U.S. and their other Western patrons need to pressure the Saudis and their allies to lift the blockade fully and permanently.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted fromThe American Conservativewith permission.