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December 18, 2018

If Millions Starve to Death in Yemen.

 

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If you want to get a grasp on the magnitude of suffering in Yemen, imagine a city of children the size of Paris that is starving to death.

Miles and miles of streets, laid out in every direction, as far as the eye can see, littered with children struggling to breathe.

Neighborhoods plagued by cholera, skyscrapers of toddlers on life support, and millions upon millions of adults, struggling to make it out of the barren suburbs alive.

According to Save the Children, 85,000 children have already starved to death in Yemen, with an additional 1.8 million starving. These alone are enough to fill a city the size of Paris. But the United Nations reports 14 million people are on the brink of famine, as many as the populations of Rome, Berlin, Boston, Madrid, Seattle, and San Francisco combined.

The United Nations has declared that Yemen could soon experience “the worst famine in 100 years.” This would put it on par with Ukraine’s forced famine of the early 1930s, in which 3.5 million died. It was perhaps the greatest crime, of the most murderous dictator, of the most violent century in human history. But whereas there was but a single Irish journalist, working for a relatively obscure paper, reporting on the Ukrainian Holodomor, the eyes of the world are now on Yemen.

If you thought it was not already happening here, it is only because your ideas of here and there were too limited in scope. Yemen may be half a world away, but American and British involvement is essential to its suffering. And while it would merely take a signature for Trump to put an end to it, he has said he will veto the bipartisan bill, recently passed by the senate in a 63 to 37 vote, ending American support for the war.

The famine is often described in neutral humanitarian terms, with the blame ascribed to the war itself. But while the Houthi rebels, who took the capital in 2015, may have destabilized an already food insecure country, it is the Saudi-led air campaign and blockade that is preventing food from getting in. And it would not be nearly so easy to pull off without British and American arms and logistical support.

If America does not end its support for the war in Yemen, its people may soon start to die by the millions. But we should remember that whenever America decides to withdraw support—in a mountainous country, whose infrastructure has been obliterated and whose inhabitants often live in hard to reach villages—it will not be easy to get food to the people who need it most. The presence of armed militias will only complicate the distribution.

And the hunger is likely to continue for years to come, for Yemen is a desperately poor country that imports 90 percent of its food, because it is a dry country that is all the drier for its increasingly empty aquifers. And in many ways, the damage has already been done to the millions of Yemeni children who will be mentally and physically stunted for life.

But if millions starve to death in Yemen, it will soon come to be viewed as the crime of the century. And while it was ideology that drove so many of the great crimes of the last century, Yemen is likely to be remembered for the greed that perpetuated the killing. Trump will be remembered as another Hitler who committed genocide not for a more racially pure nation but to sell more arms and condos.

And we will each plumb the depths of our consciences asking where we were and why we did so little to stop it. If we fail to stop the war and end the famine, Yemen may soon become the defining event of an era increasingly haunted by the ghosts of fascism.

But millions do not need to starve to death for us to recognize that the war must end—and the sooner the better.

And as soon as enough of us see the harms we are committing, ending the famine could not be easier.

Theo Horesh

author: Theo Horesh

Image: YouTube

Editor: Kelsey Michal

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