Originally appeared on The American Conservative.
The International Rescue Committee dismissed Saudi coalition “relief” plan for Yemen as a public relations gimmick:
The “relief” plan announced by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to protect civilians living in Hodeidah as they attack the port city is a publicity stunt by the Saudi-led coalition (SLC) coalition meant to draw attention away from the undue suffering the attack is causing. The port is absolutely critical to the survival of many innocent Yemenis, and 600,000 civilians living in the port city and surrounding areas are in immediate danger. An attack on or disruption of operations of the port will be catastrophic.
The Saudi coalition’s intervention has been the main cause of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The coalition governments pay lip service to providing relief to the civilian population only as a means to deflect attention from the collective punishment and atrocities that it has inflicted on them for more than three years. They are attempting to do so again by pretending that their assault on Hodeidah benefits the people of Yemen when it is sure to cause more death, suffering, displacement, and starvation. If the coalition were even slightly concerned with alleviating the suffering of Yemen’s civilian population, they would halt their current offensive, lift their blockade, and cease their indiscriminate bombing campaign.
The IRC statement makes an important point that the coalition has completely failed to provide relief to the people living in so-called “liberated” parts of Yemen, and so there is no reason to expect anything more in Hodeidah:
The Hadi government, backed by this coalition, has been in control in Aden and other areas in southern Yemen for three years, yet, innocent Yemeni civilians living in these areas continue to suffer from a total lack of basic healthcare and critical life-saving services. The coalition has had plenty of time to rebuild healthcare services and jump start the economy in the south, but they chose to pour money into their war efforts instead. Healthcare services remain inaccessible to the majority of Yemenis in the south and businesses and shops remain shuttered. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have clearly not demonstrated the desire nor the capacity to priortize the well-being of Yemeni civilians, therefore, we have no reason to believe they will follow through on their plan to provide healthcare, food and economic recovery assistance to the people of Hodeidah.
The Saudi coalition is waging a war on Yemen, and it harms Yemen’s civilians all across the country. Attacking Hodeidah won’t bring Yemen’s population relief, nor will seizing the port. The overwhelming consensus among aid groups and international institutions is that an attack on the port will be calamitous for Yemeni civilians. After only a few days, there are already tens of thousands more displaced people fleeing the area, and there are likely to be hundreds of thousands more as the battle spreads. Only a cessation of hostilities, an end to the blockade, and the start of negotiations can provide the relief that the people of Yemen so desperately need, and further escalation by the coalition shows that they have no intention of offering them any of these things.
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 from The American Conservative with permission.