|Volume 51 Number 3, January 30, 2021||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
from Stop the War, January 24, 2021
Inside Yemen, 2020 was characterised by the further worsening of its social catastrophe, and the deepening fiasco of the Saudi intervention. On January 14, 2021, Mark Lowcock, the UN's Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, reported to the UN Security Council. In a country of 30 million people, he stated, 16 million will go hungry this year. Immediately, 50,000 are starving to death, and he said "...another 5 million are just one step behind them".
It is difficult to grasp the depth and extent of the crisis. According to the World Bank, Yemen's Gross Domestic Product was $42 billion in 2015. By 2019, this figure fell to $22billion. Figures for 2020 are not yet available, but a further fall is inevitable given the impact of the war, Covid, floods, cholera, locusts, and the continued siege of the country. Since the start of the war, the population of one of the world's poorer countries has had their living standards more than halved.
Over 250,000 Yemenis have died as a result of combat, associated diseases, and hunger. Around 3.8 million have been displaced.
Inevitably in war it is the most vulnerable who bear the biggest burden. According to a report published in December 2020 by the UN Population Fund, there are 1.2 million pregnant and breast-feeding women who are acutely malnourished. The war has led to the closure of more than half of Yemen's medical facilities. Of those that remain, only twenty per cent offer maternal and child health care services. One woman and six newborns die in childbirth every two hours. Six out of ten births take place without a skilled attendant.
Incredibly, 2020 saw a reduction in aid to Yemen. The UN's programme for the year required $3.4 billion. At the end of December only $1.7 billion had been received. This was because in March President Trump cut US aid, and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates followed suit. According to Mark Lowcock, the UN had been helping 13.5 million Yemenis, but because of the cuts this was reduced to 9 million by year end.
This takes place against the continuing fiasco of the Saudi/UAE led war. 2020 saw continued armed action between Coalition "partners". Despite big diplomatic efforts by the Saudi regime, there has been no reduction in the fundamental difference between the militias armed by the Saudis, and those armed by the UAE. Just this week the Southern Transitional Council (funded by UAE) rejected recent ministerial appointments of the supporters of ex-President Hadi (funded by the Saudis). Armed conflict broke out in Aden between these forces. After six years, the Coalition, which is supported by the US and British governments, continues to be at war with itself.