Across the Middle East, the Arab Spring dethroned numerous dictators, inspiring an uprising in Yemen. Since 2014, Yemen has faced a civil war as well as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. The war began when Houthi rebels took over Yemen’s capital city and overthrew the government. The Houthi insurgents were military rebels looking to end the republican system of Yemen and replace it with their Zaidi religious law. They wanted to get rid of government corruption, get better job opportunities for Yemeni people, and end Western influence on Yemen. This divided the country’s people into two groups: those who supported the Houthis and those who did not. President Hadi and his government were disbanded, and Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia. With the support of other countries, Saudi Arabia sought to restore Hadi’s government in Yemen through a military campaign. Saudi Arabia receives support from Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, Malaysia, and Senegal militarily, while the US, the UK, France, Turkey, and Belgium support financially. The main problems the Yemeni citizens face are due to the destruction of infrastructure as well as the restrictions on food and fuel imports. As of right now, over 24 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Over 100,000 have been killed since 2015, and over 4 million citizens have been displaced.
Although COVID-19 is affecting the economies of other countries, citizens from around the world should be considerate of others and assist the helpless Yemenis, as there are multiple resources that can be utilized. Yemen’s economic instability from the civil war is the cause of its greater suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Extreme Conditions From Economic Failure
An estimated $2.4 billion is necessary to fight the pandemic in Yemen due to the lack of basic infrastructure, which mostly pertains to healthcare services. Along with COVID-19, Yemen faces the worst modern cholera situation; since January of 2020, 110,000 cholera cases have been recorded across Yemen. A quarter of these cases are children under 5 years old, which is a serious threat to the children of Yemen. With limited access to sanitation and healthcare services, outbreaks of cholera and the coronavirus are highly likely. People in Yemen do not have access to free healthcare-most of them cannot afford it, which does not give doctors much incentive to stay in Yemen if they don’t get paid well. Aside from COVID-19 and cholera, patients facing cancer or other illnesses aren’t receiving the treatment they need. There are only about 1800 recorded cases of COVID-19 in Yemen, but these numbers are likely to be inaccurate due to the lack of testing. Costs of healthcare are very expensive now due to blockades and closed ports, which are effects of the civil war.
The Consequences Of Food Shortages
Since the beginning of the war and blockades in 2016, there has been a famine in Yemen, affecting tens of millions of Yemenis. Because of the restrictions on goods, food is scarce throughout Yemen. Millions are starving and facing malnutrition, which weakens their immune system and makes them more susceptible to disease. The coronavirus is a direct cause of money shortages as well, as many lost their jobs due to the risk of the coronavirus spread. This means Yemenis cannot provide food for their families, which was already scarce due to the civil war. In addition to a shortage of food, water is also scarce in Yemen. Multiple factors contribute to this situation, including the hot climate and lack of water supply sanitation. Nearly 20 million people in Yemen rely on humanitarian aid, and this number continues to grow.
Giving Children Their Childhoods Back
There are many resources which can be used to make a difference in Yemen. As the amount of deaths from COVID-19 could potentially exceed war deaths in Yemen, Project HOPE-along with MedGlobal, Pure Hands, and United Mission for Relief and Development-is focusing on the communities in Yemen which are hardest hit by malnutrition and disease. Slowly but surely, the organizations are helping rebuild the healthcare infrastructure. By donating to or sharing Project HOPE’s information, more Yemeni people can receive the attention they need in order to get their lives back. Another organization directly helping the people of Yemen is UNICEF. UNICEF focuses more on the children of Yemen, helping them live their lives to their full potential. Donating and spreading information about UNICEF is also significantly effective in helping families survive together.
Inappropriately Limited Assistance
Overall, Yemen is in dire straits right now. Innocent citizens are unable to enjoy their lives, living in fear due to war and disease. Yemeni children are losing their education, too, as school enrollment rates are at an all-time low. Before the pandemic, nearly 2 million children were out of school, whereas now, 7 million are. The coronavirus has brought down economies around the globe, and countries are more concerned about the safety of their own people than those in Yemen. These countries also fear financial aid not going where it is most needed, as there are no guarantees due to political instability. However, as citizens of the world, people should come together and make whatever effort they can to help Yemenis achieve safety. Everyone is suffering, but those in need of the greatest assistance are the people of Yemen. It is unjust to put Yemen’s suffering completely aside, as every little contribution makes a difference. At the very least, little amounts of money should be donated or resources should be shared through social media for free.
The coronavirus does not seem to be disappearing anytime soon, which puts the entire population of Yemen at risk. The amount of resources and healthcare services is improving through numerous nonprofit organizations but this is no guarantee of safety. Additionally, neither the Houthis nor Saudi Arabia, is thinking about stopping the war yet. The conflict has room to go on for years, putting the lives of innocent Yemenis at risk. Due to the fight over control, there is no organized way for Yemen to fight the coronavirus. They lack resources such as masks, gloves, and sanitary materials, as well as clean water and sufficient amounts of food. Governments around the world should fund groups such as UNICEF, which are not corrupt and are focused on the right actions. Citizens should donate what they can or spread awareness of the issue to friends and family. Global citizens should come together to help the country that needs the most assistance during this pandemic: Yemen.