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Yemen Famine, People trapped and starving
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Yemen Famine, People trapped and starving

The World's Largest Humanitarian Crisis

In September 2014, Yemen's Houthi rebels overthrew the country's government and took control of the capital, Sanaa. The country has been at war ever since. In March 2015, Saudi Arabia entered the conflict, leading a ten-nation coalition of Sunni Arab states. Unwilling to let Yemen be ruled by a Shiite government, allegedly backed by Iran, Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners are committed to reinstating Yemen's Sunni government.

The cost to Yemen's civilian population, economy, and infrastructure has been immense. As the conflict escalated, Yemen rapidly eclipsed Syria as the World's largest humanitarian crisis. In the video below, the United Nations warns that out of a population of about 27 million, as many as 13 million are now at risk of dying in the next 3 months.

Yemen could be 'worst famine in 100 years'
BBC, 15 Oct 2018

Yemen has teetered on the edge of famine for over a year. According to statistics from the UN's OHCA page about Yemen, an estimated 17.8 million Yemenis are food insecure (nearly two-thirds of the population). 22.2 million need humanitarian assistance, including about 11.3 million children.

Recent events have made the ever-increasing threat of full-scale famine much more likely in the coming months. For several months now, Yemen government and Saudi coalition forces have been battling to retake Hodeidah from Houthi rebels. As Yemen's main port, Hodeidah is the country's lifeline for aid coming into the country. With the road between Hodeidah and the capital Sanaa cut off my bombing, together with the disruption caused by fighting, vital imports of food and aid are restricted. On top of that a recent plunge in the value of Yemen's currency has made food prices double within a month. Many people simple cannot afford to buy the food that is available.

Added to that is the ever-present threat of disease. Over 1.2 million suspected cases of cholera were recorded between October 2016 and September 2018, making it the biggest cholera outbreak ever recorded. Over 1,900 cases of diphtheria were recorded between November 2017 and June 2018.

A personal appeal by Hamish Erskine, a plumber in Exeter.

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Although I am now back in the UK and retrained as a plumber in 2011, I spent 14 years teaching mathematics in Yemen from 1995 until 2009. Yemen was a wild and wonderful place to live, with beautiful scenery, amazing architecture, and incredibly friendly and hospitable people. It is heartbreaking to see what has become of Yemen today.

In creating this website, I hope that I can make a small difference for the country that so warmly hosted me for so many years.

Below I suggest three ways you can help. I am not personally collecting any money, but I encourage you to donate to one of the UK aid organisations that have launched Yemen Crisis Appeals. Each of these know how to best get your money to where it is most needed (see my Donate page).
The BBC's documentary below is now over 2 years old. The situation is now much more acute. The Yemen Famine is not a situation that has taken the world by surprise. Politicians have been aware for at least 2 years that full-scale famine is a looming probability.

BBC News: Yemen on the brink of starvation
21 September 2016
(Abridged version of BBC Our World's 'Starving Yemen' documentary)

Although the Yemen Crisis is significantly larger than that of Syria, Yemen's Crisis has received much less attention in western media. Over the last few years, Syrian refugees have flooded out of Syria into Europe, so their plight has been much more visible on western radar. Yemen, on the other hand, is a country besieged, with its population trapped. Land borders are closed, a Saudi Arabian naval blockade around its coastline blocks the exit of refugees and restricts the import of food or aid. Few Yemenis have the means to board one of the few remaining flights out of the country. So the 3 million or so of Yemen's refugees have mostly been displaced internally, rather than across international borders.

As the Middle East's poorest country, before the war Yemen imported 90% of its food, 70% of its fuel, and all its medical supplies. With its port facilities having been all but crippled by Saudi Arabian airstrikes, ships wait off its coastline for months at a time to unload their cargoes. The few remaining hospitals that haven't been bombed operate with only the most basic medical supplies. Lack of fuel, combined with the destruction of many roads and bridges, means that transportation of food and aid is severely hampered. For fresh water, most of Yemen relies entirely on water that is pumped from deep underground bore-holes. Without diesel for the pumps, there is no water to irrigate land for farming, and access to clean drinking water is severely limited. Food imports are all but cut-off. Fishing communities along its coastline cannot work as their boats have been repeatedly bombed by Saudi warplanes. Food prices have sky-rocketed, but with Yemen's economy devastated, much of the population is now unemployed. Salaries for many government employees have not been paid for over a year. Much of the population is starving, or nearly so.

It is our ally, Saudi Arabia, who has caused most of this devastation, and the UK is supporting it. In the first year since the start of the conflict on 26 March 2015, the UK licensed £3.3 billion of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, including £1 billion of bombs and missiles, up from only £9 million the previous year. Saudi Arabia has devastated Yemen's infrastructure, leaving the population to starve to death.

In 2016, the UK government increased its annual aid to Yemen from £37 million to £85 million, and to over £200 in 2017. But this is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the tens of billions of pounds worth of damage caused to its infrastructure by British and American-made bombs supplied to Saudi Arabia.

UN estimates of about 10,000 people killed in the conflict greatly obscure the severity of the crisis. Hundreds of thousands, or even millions of Yemenis, are likely to die in the year ahead, either by war, famine, or disease.

It is the job of governments to use diplomatic pressure to bring an end to the war though a negotiated settlement. And it is the job of international aid agencies to mount a massive relief effort. But they need resources, which have to come from somewhere. All of us have a role to play. You can help save lives in Yemen.

Ways you can help

Support the aid agencies that are working in Yemen
Spread awareness of the crisis among your friends
Write to your MP
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Designed and written by Hamish Erskine
© 2017 Hamish Erskine
Web design and marketing ideas: hamish.com
Plumbing: hamish-the-plumber.com
Email: info@yf.com
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