The Starvation of Yemen and the Attack on Hodeidah

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

The Associated Press reports on the appalling starvation that is slowly killing millions of people in Yemen:

In a remote pocket of northern Yemen, many families with starving children have nothing to eat but the leaves of a local vine, boiled into a sour, acidic green paste. International aid agencies have been caught off guard by the extent of the suffering there as parents and children waste away.

The main health center in Aslam district was flooded with dozens of emaciated children during a recent visit by the Associated Press. Excruciatingly thin toddlers, eyes bulging, sat in a plastic washtub used in a make-shift scale as nurses weighed each one. Their papery skin was stretched tight over pencil-like limbs and knobby knees. Nurses measured their forearms, just a few centimeters in diameter, marking the worst stages of malnutrition.

At least 20 children are known to have died of starvation already this year in the province that includes the district, more than three years into the country’s ruinous civil war. The real number is likely far higher, since few families report it when their children die at home, officials say [bold mine-DL].

Millions of Yemenis are suffering from conditions like these every day, and the conditions are growing steadily worse. The coalition blockade impedes the delivery of basic necessities, and what does get through is prohibitively expensive for people in a country where the economy is in a state of collapse. Countless Yemenis are dying from preventable causes, and many of their deaths go uncounted and unseen. Hunger and disease have been claiming at least tens of thousands of Yemeni lives each year that this conflict has been raging, and those numbers are only going to increase if things keep going as they are. There will be many more preventable deaths if the coalition’s Hodeidah offensive continues, since that offensive threatens to disrupt supplies of food and fuel even more. International aid agencies warn of the famine that is likely to happen if the offensive is not stopped:

Audrey Crawford, [Danish Refugee Council]’s Country Director in Yemen says: “We are equally worried about the likely closure of the port of Hodeidah, through which 70% of supplies are shipped. With rates of malnutrition and disease running high, the port is a vital lifeline for millions of Yemenis who are dependent on aid.”

Meanwhile, almost half a million people have fled Hodeidah between June and August. The Norwegian Refugee Council report continues:

So far in September, 55,000 people have been displaced from across the governorate, leaving more than half a million at heightened risk of hunger and exposure to diseases, including cholera.

The Hodeidah offensive is already putting hundreds of thousands of lives at risk, and unless it is stopped quickly it could endanger millions more. The U.N. has issued its own warning about the potential consequences of the continuation of the Hodeidah offensive:

The UN warned ongoing fighting in Hodeidah, the entry point for the bulk of Yemen’s commercial imports and aid supplies, could trigger famine in the impoverished nation where an estimated 8.4 million people are facing starvation.

“We’re particularly worried about the Red Sea mill, which currently has 45,000 metric tonnes of food inside, enough to feed 3.5 million people for a month. If the mills are damaged or disrupted, the human cost will be incalculable,” Grande said in a statement.

If the coalition were making “every effort” to reduce harm to civilians, as Pompeo and other administration officials have dishonestly claimed, it would not be pressing ahead with the attack on Hodeidah, and it would not still be impeding the delivery of basic necessities. We can see that the Saudi coalition acts with callous disregard for the lives of Yemeni civilians and has done so since it attacked in 2015. The Saudis and their allies have been strangling Yemen’s population to death for years, and the U.S. gives them cover and aid while they do it. Congress needs to challenge the Trump administration over its lies about Yemen and they need to use all the leverage at their disposal to force an end to US involvement in this atrocious war.

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.

8 thoughts on “The Starvation of Yemen and the Attack on Hodeidah”

  1. Millions aren’t dead! Let’s not exaggerate. The entire war has caused about a 15,000 dead through direct conflict – and about 100,000 through the famine and lack of medicines.

    These are statistics directly from the on-ground sources of the Yemeni Health Ministry.

    The conflict however is indeed wrong, and the Zionist Backed Saudi-led coalition isn’t winning BTW, but is getting it’s a** handed over to it chopped up in a million pieces.

    1. To me, it seems to be your denialism that is doing the actual exaggerating of how supposedly innocent this conflict is. How long has the US, and its Gulf States, Israeli, and Saudi allies, been at war against Iran now? Did the killing not start way back when these same thugs went after Iran by using the Iraqi people under the rule of Saddam Hussein as cannon fodder? I’m not even mentioning too how Lebanon and Syria were put on the sacrifice table as well for the US imperialist Empire’s blood lust and MIC.

      Faux ‘Leftism’ that sees events in Libya, Syria and elsewhere in narrow and confined manner willingly miss the real story.

      1. “How long has the US, and its Gulf States, Israeli, and Saudi allies, been at war against Iran now? Did the killing not start way back when these same thugs went after Iran by using the Iraqi people under the rule of Saddam Hussein as cannon fodder?”

        Long before that. It’s just that from 1953-79, US allies in the war against Iran including Iran’s own regime.

          1. I think that you have it turned completely around and cannot tell the puppet from the country that pulls the strings. Israel is it who does the bidding of the US government, and not the other way around.

            ‘The conflict however is indeed wrong, and the Zionist Backed Saudi-led coalition isn’t winning BTW, but is getting it’s a** handed over to it chopped up in a million pieces.’

            More baloney. Neither Israel, Saudi Arabia, nor the US is suffering a remote fraction of what the people of Yemen are. You don’t seem to understand much of the situation there at all.

      2. Typical reactionary comment by people with whom I am more or less on the same page.

        “To me, it seems to be your denialism that is doing the actual exaggerating of how supposedly innocent this conflict is. How long has the US, and its Gulf States, Israeli, and Saudi allies, been at war against Iran now?”

        When have I denied their hostilities to Iran? Also only UAE and KSA are anti-Iran, not the rest of the Gulf States.

        “Did the killing not start way back when these same thugs went after Iran by using the Iraqi people under the rule of Saddam Hussein as cannon fodder? I’m not even mentioning too how Lebanon and Syria were put on the sacrifice table as well for the US imperialist Empire’s blood lust and MIC.”

        Saddam was supported by an Arab Sunni majority army. The Kurds were at war with them, and the Shia Iraqis were mostly neutral during the Iran-Baathist war.

        Syria has suffered decisively, but Lebanon is up and going and progressing quite smoothly.

        Please read my comments again – I’m not white-washing anything.

  2. Is there a good group, btw, that aids Yemeni? Is it even possible to aid them? Or Syrians?

    I’m not wanting anyone’s personal group, but I mean what are the solid big aid groups that are publicly praised?

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