The World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen Keeps Getting Worse

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

The U.N.’s humanitarian chief described the “catastrophic” conditions that exist in Yemen today:

In a speech read by UN director of humanitarian operations John Ging, Lowcock said that 8.4 million Yemenis “are severely food insecure” and about 400,000 children under the age of 5 “are so severely malnourished they are 10 times likelier to die without treatment than their healthy peers.”

Yemen’s crisis is by far the worst in the world just by the sheer numbers affected and the severity of the conditions, and it is made even more so by the fact that the crisis could be quickly alleviated if the coalition halted its bombing campaign and lifted its blockade. If Yemen were allowed to resume normal commerce with the outside world and a sustained relief effort were made, the most dire, worst-case scenarios could be averted. That won’t help the tens of thousands who have already perished from preventable causes, but it could still preserve the lives of millions at risk of dying from starvation and preventable disease.

Next month will be the third anniversary of the start of the Saudi-led war on Yemen, and with each passing year conditions inside Yemen have grown significantly worse. The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is not only the world’s worst, but it was probably the most widely predicted and easily prevented crisis of at least the last twenty-five years. It was obvious in the spring of 2015 that escalating the conflict and blockading an import-dependent country would result in widespread hunger and disease, but the many warnings that this would happen went unheeded. As we approach the spring of 2018, the things that opponents of the intervention warned would happen have happened and in some ways conditions are even worse than anyone anticipated. No one can claim that these terrible developments were unforeseeable, and no one can claim that they were unavoidable.

The crisis in Yemen is a man-made one caused in large part by the deliberate policy choices of the coalition governments and their Western enablers, and the crisis continues because they choose to continue it. The people of Yemen need a major, coordinated international response to end the war and avert mass starvation, but such a response still seems as far away as ever. The very least that the U.S. can do is to stop participating in this disgraceful war. Congress should vote to halt all US military assistance to coalition governments.

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.